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- Writing for Vaudeville - 70/95 -


PHONSIE: Oh yes, mommer, do rush the growler. Me coppers is toastin'. And don't forget your misery cape and the music that goes with you, will you, mommer?

GLADYS: I'll get those.

PHONSIE: And you'd better take some handkerchiefs. You may want to cry. But don't cry in the beer, mommer, it makes it flat.

GLADYS: Thank you, baby, I do love to weep. Oh, if we only had a blizzard, I'd take you out in your nightie. But wait, sweetheart, wait till it goes below zero. Then you shall go out with mommer, bare-footed.

PHONSIE: Don't stand chewing the rag with the bartender, will you, mommer?

GLADYS: Only till he puts a second head on the beer. (Exit R.)

PHONSIE: Gee, it's fierce to be a stage child and dying. I wonder where my popper is? I want my popper--I want my popper. (Bawls.)

MOE REISS: (Enters.) Why, what is the matter, my little man?

PHONSIE: Oh, I'm so lonely, I want my popper.

MOE REISS: And where is your popper?

PHONSIE: Mommer says he is in Philadelphia. (Sniffles.)

MOE REISS: (Lifts hat reverently.) Dead, and his child doesn't know. And where is your mama?

PHONSIE: Oh, she's went out to chase the can.

MOE REISS: And what is your name, my little man?

PHONSIE: Alphonso. Ain't that practically the limit?

MOE REISS: Alphonso? I once had a little boy named Alphonso, who might have been about your age.

PHONSIE: And what prevented him?

MOE REISS: (Sighs.) Alas, I lost him!

PHONSIE: That was awful careless of you. You oughtn't to have took him out without his chain. (Sniffs.)

MOE REISS: What's the matter with your nose?

PHONSIE: I have the glanders--and the heaves. I get all the horse diseases. Father was a race track tout.

MOE REISS: A race track tout? What is your last name?

PHONSIE: Dressuitcase, Alphonso Dressuitcase.

MOE REISS: Dressuitcase? And have you heavy shingle marks on your person, great blue welts?

PHONSIE: You bet I have, and my popper put them there, too.

MOE REISS: Why, it's my boy, Phonsie, my little Phonsie. Don't you know me? It's popper. (Slams him in face hard with open hand.)

PHONSIE: Well, your style is familiar, but you don't need to show off!

GLADYS: (Enters. Carrying Growler carefully.) Moe! Moe! My husband! (Buries face in can.)

MOE REISS: Gladys! Gladys! My wife! (Takes can from GLADYS.)

PHONSIE: (Comes between them.) Here, I want to have my fever reduced. (Back to bed.)

GLADYS: Where have you been all these years, Moe?

MOE REISS: Just bumming around, just bumming around. When I deserted you and copped out Birdie Bedslatz, I went from bad to worse, from Jersey City to Hoboken. [1] When my senses returned, I was insane.

[1] Local.

GLADYS: My poor husband, how you must have suffered!

MOE REISS: At heart, I was always true to you and our little boy, and I want to come back home.

GLADYS: But tell me, Moe, how are you fixed? (Tries to feel his vest pocket.)

MOE REISS: Fine, I am running a swell gambling joint.

GLADYS: Splendid! Now, Phonsie shall have proper nourishment.

MOE REISS: He shall have all the food he can eat. (Up to bed.)

GLADYS: Yes, and all the beer he can drink.

MOE REISS: Great heavens, I could never pay for that.

GLADYS: Ah, then he will have to cut out his souse. Dear little chap; he loved to get tanked up. Oh look at him, Moe, he is the living image of you. I think if he lives, he will be a great bull fighter. (PHONSIE has finished the beer, and is sucking at a nipple on large bottle marked "Pure Rye.")

MOE REISS: Then he does take after me--dear little chap. (Hits him.)

GLADYS: Indeed he does. But is it safe for you to come here, Moe?

MOE REISS: Not with Whitman [1] on my trail. You know, Gladys, in the eyes of the world, I am guilty.

[1] Local District Attorney.

GLADYS: Then the world lies. (Chord. ALGERNON comes on from R. I and conducts and then Exits.) I still trust you, my husband, though the police want you for stealing moth balls. (Crash off.) What's that? (Runs to door.) Oh, it's the health department. They have come with the garbage wagon to arrest you. Quick, in there. (Points to door R.)

MOE REISS: No, let them come. I am here to see my wife and here I shall remain.

GLADYS: But for our child's sake. See, he holds up his little hands and pleads for you to go. (PHONSIE in pugilistic attitude.)

PHONSIE: Say, pop, if you don't get a wiggle on and duck in there, there'll be something doing. (Business.)

MOE REISS: My boy, I can refuse you nothing. (Exits.)

GLADYS: (At door C.) They are sneaking up, on rubbers! (To PHONSIE.) Lie down, Fido. (Guarding door R. Enter ALGERNON and BIRDIE, Door C.)

ALGERNON: There's some hellish mystery here!

BIRDIE: You can search me.

ALGERNON: (Sees GLADYS.) Aha! Now will you sign those papers?

GLADYS: Never. (Bus.) I'll sign nothing. (Down R.)

ALGERNON: (Takes carrot from his hip pocket.) You won't? There, curse you, take that. (Hits her in neck with carrot.)

GLADYS: In the neck! In the neck, where I always get it!

ALGERNON: (Center.) Quick, Birdie, seize the child and run.

BIRDIE: (Left, looks scornfully at PHONSIE.) You've got your nerve. He weighs a ton!!

PHONSIE: Oh! She's going to kidnap me!! Assistance!!

ALGERNON: Silence!! Enough!! (To GLADYS.) I have just come from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

GLADYS: Well?

ALGERNON: I have reported to them that your child has the heaves.

GLADYS: Well?

ALGERNON: The Society is sending a horse ambulance to take him to the dump.

GLADYS: Dump? To the dump?!!! No, no, it's a cruel, hideous jest! Take away my little dying boy? It would kill him, you understand, it would kill him!!

PHONSIE: (Toughly.) Sure, it would kill me!! (Bites off big chew of Tobacco.)

ALGERNON: Nevertheless, in five minutes the horse ambulance will be here.

GLADYS: Oh no! no! no! What if my child should die?

ALGERNON: Then they will make glue out of his carcass.

GLADYS: Glue. Aw! (Shakes snow on herself from box hanging over the table L.)

PHONSIE: I don't want to be no glue, mommer, I'd be all stuck up.

GLADYS: (Goes C. to PHONSIE.) Why this fiendish plot? What have I done that you thus pursue me?

ALGERNON: (R. C.) You repulsed my hellish caresses.

GLADYS: Oh, I will do anything to save my child. I'll try to love you. . . . I will love! See? (Business.) (Into his arms.) I love you now!


Writing for Vaudeville - 70/95

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