A play in one act
Jessica, a white woman in her late thirties, dressed in a knee-length skirt and a sleeveless black shirt with a prominent avocado smear on one shoulder. She is never seen without
Lulu, an energetic child of about a year and a half
Adam, a white man, also in his late thirties, wearing a pair of paint-stained shorts and a t-shirt. Currently the family breadwinner.
Rat, a medium-sized rodent
Waiter, a Mexican high school student with carefully styled hair
Mariachi band, enough said
Act I, Scene 1
A one-room apartment above a restaurant in a small Mexican beach town. Outside the door, laundry hangs on a line. The Beatles’ "Imagine," played at top volume, is abruptly turned off, replaced by a blast of cumbia music. Two men can be heard arguing in Spanish. The music gradually fades as light comes up on the room shared by Jessica, Adam, Lulu, and Rat.
Toys are scattered across the floor. Five beds of different sizes have been pushed up against the walls. A plastic table, of the kind used outdoors, with a single plastic chair, sits next to the refrigerator. Rat is poised on its haunches on top of the refrigerator, preparing to eat a ripe avocado with a spoon. Jessica and Lulu lie on one of the beds. Jessica is reading a detective novel aloud as she nurses the baby.
Adam enters. He places his hat and sunglasses on the table and prepares to sit. Notices Rat.
Adam: Wha—this is disgusting! Rat is eating our food!
Rat drops the spoon with a clatter and runs into the rafters.
Jessica looks up.
Jessica: At least it’s not drinking our coffee.
Lulu sits up abruptly. Da!
Jessica: We missed you. Do you want a sandwich? We have cheese.
Jessica: So, is it getting finished?
Jessica: Any idea when it will be finished?
Adam: Not really.
Act I, Scene 2
A room in another apartment complex in the same small town. The walls are painted an unpleasant yellowish beige. On top of a dresser a pepper grinder, a half-empty bottle of beer, and a roll of toilet paper are visible. A bed takes up much of the room. In one corner a miniature refrigerator with a small microwave bolted to the top emits a loud, variable hum.
Adam sits in a large, food-stained chair, holding a laptop computer, several pillows shoved behind his back. Jessica enters, carrying Lulu.
Jessica: What’s that smell? Do you smell something?
Adam: Yeah. It’s sewage. We are right next to the sewage treatment plant.
Jessica: Yeah. (Sets the baby down)
Lulu: Baila, baila! (dances)
Adam: So, what’d you guys do today?
Jessica: We bought some organic beans at the Mega. I was thinking we could cook in the fridge—you know, like, sprouting stuff! And I found this thing that froths milk without using electricity!
Adam: Uh, sounds good.
Jessica: How was work?
Jessica: Are they making progress?
Adam: Not really.
Jessica: So—how much longer?
Adam: I have no idea. (Pause, then) Should we go for tacos?
Jessica: Sure. Um. I’m pretty sick of tacos.
Adam: Well, we could get pozole.
Jessica: That’s more corn.
Act I, Scene 3
A taqueria. Smoke from a grill billows over three plastic tables set in the street. Across the street at the bakery a child aged about two, covered with red spots, is eating a donut.
Lulu: Acos. (Notices bakery) Num!
Jessica: No num. Let’s have meat.
Lulu (smiles): Num!
They sit. Waiter appears.
Adam: Hola, buenas noches. Tres de asada, por favor.
Jessica: Igual. Gracias. (Turns to Adam. Lulu gets down and runs toward the sidewalk. Jessica follows. Several minutes later, they return. Lulu squirms, is put down, runs away again. Jessica prepares to follow)
Adam: (sotto voce) Keep her away from that kid. He has mumps or something.
Jessica: What? (Disappears)
Adam remains at the table. He looks preoccupied.
Several minutes later, Jessica and Lulu reappear.
Adam: Here’s your agua.
Waiter arrives, sets down plates of tacos. Algo más?
Adam: No, gracias.
They begin to eat in silence. Sound from loudspeakers atop a traveling vegetable truck can be heard in the distance: Señoras de la casa, tenemos jitomates, veinte pesos por kilo, si, solo veinte pesos cada kilo. Aprovecha! (Sound fades away.)
Adam: Watch out. She’s getting salsa everywhere.
Jessica: Could you pass me a napkin?
Suddenly, a mariachi band appears stage left. The guitarist strums the first notes of a song and the singer steps forward. Rat appears stage right, holding a miniature pair of maracas.
Parece un camino laaaargo,
A veces necessitas esperar.
But as time is passing
Life is passing
Oh, it might seem like a long road,
But you know what, it’s a short life—
Que agarres los cojones!
(Together) Que agarres los cojones!
Adam: I didn’t know mariachis could swear.
Jessica: Maybe they can’t. I just made all this up. Except for the part about the rat. Come on, let’s finish our tacos, buy a family-size Corona, and go watch the moon come up over the breakwater. (They smile at each other.)
Lulu: Go! Go! (Turns and waves at audience)