I'M NOT NORMAN

© 2003 Lisa Morton

 

Lights come up on a woman, dressed in dowdy housecoat, with dark-circled eyes and frowzy hair, one of life's natural misfits. She stands over an even stranger figure - the shriveled corpse of a middle-aged woman, dressed absurdly in a tattered nightgown. The woman (the living one, that is) looks out at the audience as if just answering a question posed to her.

WOMAN: ... so I suppose you want to know who this is. C'mon, I'm not stupid, I know you didn't just drop by for a social visit. Okay, so who is this? It's - ah - see, it's kind of a long story, but - well, it's my boss. From work. At the - movie studio. She'd been really harassing me for a long time. You know, I think she felt threatened by me, because I'm so good at my job - you know, I was really moving up that ladder - so she was always trying to get me on any petty little thing. "You're two minutes late... " "...I don't like the way this letter's typed... " "...you know I don't like this much cream in my coffee... " She was really a - well, you know - (whispers the next four words) - a bitch. On wheels. It got so I'd come to work and spend my whole day just trying to stay out of her way, but it didn't work. She was always there, carping and spying and prying and nagging, just like - (She breaks, tries to stammer on) I finally went to the head of the record com- (breaks off again, realizing) - I mean, movie studio. He and I were like this (holds up two fingers together). In fact, I used to advise him on which movies to make. Anyway, he fired her right away, gave me her position. So there I am two nights later, when who do you think shows up at my front door at ten o'clock? Yeah, it was her. She's furious, accuses me of having performed certain - lewd acts to get the job. As if she never did. So I tried to slam the door on her, but she pushed it open and - and shoved her way in. That was when she got really belligerent - you know, she was ranting and screaming, and she pushed me, then - yeah, she tried to hit me, and I just grabbed the first thing I could to defend myself, you know, self defense. So it was a baseball bat, and I - (she breaks off, listens for a beat, then) What? This was - uh - last Thursday - no, Friday - (listens again, then) Well, I know it looks like she's been dead longer than that, but that's how she looked anyway... (listens) The nightie? Well, she must've gotten out of bed just to come over... (listens) How do you know what she'd wear to bed? (A beat, as she considers, then bursts out) Okay, it's not my boss. It's - it's - my boyfriend's - I mean my ex-husband's - lover. The other woman. Errol wanted to get remarried - he said he couldn't live without me - then I find out that even while he's telling me this, he's seeing this little tart - Scarlett - on the side. He met her in a cheap bar. He was trying to get drunk so he wouldn't think of me. And - are you ready for this? - the night he proposed the second time I could smell her perfume on him. It was cheap, too - like - like - stale breakfast cereal. Of course I accused him. Of course he denied it. So I followed him. To her place. A cheap barrio in the San Gabriel valley. I got her name off the mailbox, then her telephone number. I called her up and suggested a meeting. So we could talk rationally, you know. She came here later that night. She said she loved Errol and couldn't stand the thought that he loved me more. Then she pulled this little gun out of her purse. We struggled, and I - I hit her over the head with a bottle. It wasn't like the movies, where someone just gets knocked out - it killed her. Yeah. So then I - (listens) What? Errol's address? Well, I - I don't remember - I mean, I hadn't been there since the divorce... (Another beat, then another little explosion) Okay, all right, there is no Errol, no other woman. Look, don't pressure me, okay?! I'll tell you who it really is. It's my next-door neighbor. See, she just moved in three months ago, and - well, this is embarrassing, but the truth is - she was in love with me. It was disgusting. Oh, not at first - in the beginning she was just a neighbor. You know, borrowing a cup of sugar some time, asking mama - I mean, asking me to turn down the t.v. Then we became friends - just friends, that's all. We'd go to the movies, have dinner, talk. (listens) About what? You know, the usual... whatever people talk about. Let me finish - so gradually I started to realize she didn't want to be 'just friends'. She started staring at me - at my - you know - (whispers) - private parts, under my clothes. One day I was doing the laundry, and I left to go get some more change. When I came back, I caught her sniffing my underwear. She was smiling. A week later she showed me this - this thing with batteries, and asked me to - ugh, it was just horrible. I mean, I'm not a prude, but that... It must have certainly taken 'D' size batteries. Of course I said no. She got ugly. I had to lock the door on her. A few days later she tried to apologize - but when I opened the door she had a knife, and she - (listens) What do you mean, you talked to Mr. Hernandez? He's the neighbor on the other side... (listens) I don't care what your little notebook says, you must have it wrong - (She momentarily panics) Okay, don't point the gun at me again... (she listens, then) You want to talk to my mother? You can't she's - well, she's - really tired - (she gestures at the corpse) All right, this is mama! Mama... she died about three months ago. She'd been bedridden for the last six years. I couldn't have a job, because I had to take care of her all the time. We lived off her pension and disability. I hated her... but when she died, I got so - lonely. So I bought these books - how-to books - and I - well, first I hung her up in the bathroom, then I made these incisions in the bottoms of her feet, to let the blood drain out. See? That was a mess, let me tell you... (She reaches beneath the corpse and pulls forth a huge kitchen knife) 'Course it was worse when I opened her up with this Ginsu knife, and I - (reacts) What? Put the knife down? Why? I'm just showing you what I did with mama, so she wouldn't - you know - go bad. So she could keep me company. So the checks would keep coming. (listens, then) Why didn't I tell you this before? Well, I didn't want you to think I was - you know, like that guy in the movie. Psycho. I'm not. I don't lure young girls into the shower to kill them. At least not yet. (she smiles, then) It was a joke. What are you doing with those handcuffs? I'm not going anywhere with you. I haven't done anything wrong. You can't take me away. I'm not psycho. (She steps forward and hefts the knife) Stay away. I won't let you hurt mama. You better not... I'm not - I'm not

(She raises the knife and lunges forward just as the lights go to black)

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