Fire-Roasted Duck with Red Currant Jelly served with
Stuffed Leeks with Blue Cheese, Raisins and Almonds
A short play by Joe Hanrahan
One chair. Lenny enters. White shirt, black tie, black pants, apron. Writing in a small notebook, muttering to himself.
LENNY: OK…mm…Tonight's Special…Mm…Mmh…Mmmmh(nodding)
Allright, Seafood…Fresh we have Salmon…Sole…Swordfish…Snapper…Do all fucking fish start with the letter 'S'?...(thinks)…Flounder…aaaah, Flounder…Fucking Flounder…that's the Seafood Special
(turns page on notebook) Fruit looks good.
Good Strawberries…Cherries look nice…Bananas…Kiwi. Mousse…Flambe'…Short…cake. Sweets for the Fucking Sweet.
(turns page on notebook) Push the Italian Chardonnay. (stares at ceiling) Jesus H. Christ. Italian Chardonnay. It's fine, but why bother? You have Chardonnay…French, California…you have Italian wine, you…
Six cases! Six, he bought SIX fucking cases! Who wants Italian Chardonnay? It's like…South African…Swiss Cheese. Korean…Bagels. Hungarian Tacos…
(turns page on notebook) OK. Silvio Section 1. Estrella Section 2. Manny Section 3.
Rose enters. White shirt, black tie, black pants, apron.
ROSE: Sorry I'm late. So sorry. Sorry Sorry Sorry I'm late. I've got this Dollar Store alarm clock, has a mind of its own. Buzzes when it wants to buzz. This morning it wanted to sleep in. Hah!
But then the traffic…
LENNY: Rose…it's OK. OK. You're here now.
ROSE: Okay. What d'ya want me to do? Get butter ready? Or, uh…
LENNY: No, I want to…
ROSE: Special all set? What is it? I couldn't believe that thing we had last night. The eggplant thing? That was the grossest thing I've ever seen! Did anybody order that? And if they did, did they eat it? (laughing)
LENNY: Rose. I just want to talk.
ROSE: Oh. Okay. Talk. Okay.
LENNY: Have a seat.
ROSE: Allright. Is this the wine talk? Oooh, I've been looking forward to this. I love wine. You know that. Red, White, even Rose'. I know I'm not supposed to like Rose' but…
LENNY: No, no, you can find a decent Rose'…but, what I…
ROSE: That one sip I had…of that old French one…the other night…what was that…Pinot Noir?
LENNY: Yeah, yeah, that was good.
ROSE: Oh, my God, you have one sip of a wine like that, and you know, you know what wine is all about. When was that from? 1938?
ROSE: I could taste the year in it. Just the sip. I could taste 1937.
ROSE: (stands) So are we going to the cellar…
LENNY: No, no, sit. This isn't the wine talk.
ROSE: Oh, Okay. Can I ask you a question before we start?
ROSE: I was thinking about this last night. I was watching Silvio last night…I mean he's good, really good waiter. And he gets these great tips, I know, the best tips. You know why? Well, you know why. It's because he's always giving people something extra. When they can't figure out what wine they want, if it's by the glass, he'll bring them little tasting portions. And he'll make substitutions on dishes even when chef says absolutely no substitutions on these dishes. And last night…I saw him…someone got a steak and baked potato, but there was that special of the truffled mac 'n cheese, and they were going on about how good it sounded, so he just brought them a side portion of that. I mean, I know he got a big tip from that table.
LENNY: Right, right…
ROSE: So, I just want to know, can I do that? Should I do that? I mean, people really like that kind of thing. I think that would make them like the restaurant a lot, right? I'm not just asking about this for big tips, I just thought…
LENNY: Rose, just give me a second! Okay?
ROSE: Oh. Okay.
LENNY: Okay. Uh, Rose…uh…well…
ROSE: Yeah, Lenny, what?
LENNY: Well, remember when you started here…
ROSE: Uh, like two months ago, yeah, I remember when I started.
LENNY: Uh, remember what I told you then…
ROSE: Be on time.
LENNY: Yeah, that, too…
ROSE: Wash my hair? Smile a lot?
LENNY: Yeah, all that…but, the one thing I said was that this job…isn't for everybody.
LENNY: I told you, this job, this place…this is a very unique restaurant. We have a reputation, we've been here a long time, and you know very few restaurants last even a couple years. We have a very loyal clientele and…
ROSE: I know. That's why I was so happy to get this job. I'm really proud to be working here.
LENNY: I know…
(pause, as what's happening starts to sink into Rose, and Lenny evades her yes)
ROSE: My parents have come here for years. They brought me when I was a kid.
LENNY: Yeah, but…
ROSE: So, what? Are you…you're not going to fire me?
ROSE: (standing) No, no. I need this job. I need…
LENNY: But…Hey, you told me…you're an actress, right? An actress first, right?
ROSE: Yes, but you said if I had an audition…
LENNY: I know.
ROSE: So, what? What do I do wrong? I always clear it with you when I have auditions.
LENNY: You do. Yeah.
ROSE: Well, what?
LENNY: OK. Last Friday night…
LENNY: You went out after closing with Manny…and…
ROSE: Yeah. And some other people.
LENNY: What'd you do?
ROSE: Went to a club…
ROSE: And what? Danced….
ROSE: Yeah, sure…
LENNY: And…(pause. Then flicks his nose.)…And…touch of coke, some meth, maybe
ROSE: OhmyGod….OK a little bit…
LENNY: A little bit. When you're hittin' with Senor Manuel, it is never a leetle beet.
ROSE: It was. Just a little bit, a taste…
LENNY: A taste, ah…
ROSE: I almost never do that…
LENNY: Wasn't the first time, though, was it? With the gang, here?
ROSE: Well, no…
LENNY: There you go…
ROSE: So you're firing me because of that? What about Manny? And…
LENNY: What about auditions? How are you supposed to go for auditions after working all night, then partying till morning?
ROSE: I never let anything, not drugs, not drinking, nothing, get in the way of my work.
LENNY: Okay, but…
ROSE: I would never go to an audition under the influence of…anything.
LENNY: All right all right but…
ROSE: But…but…what about you?
ROSE: What about you? I've heard about you. Mr. Party! Mr. Party Animal! Of all time! I've heard. Manny told me.
ROSE: OhMyGod! Manny told me…about the cab ride you two took. From New York to Miami! Then that pile of coke this high you put in the back room so everybody could make it through all the covers on New Year's Eve! I heard!
ROSE: Drinking three…three five thousand dollar bottles of wine! One night. Just to show you could…or what was it?
LENNY: Hey! This isn't me we're talking about. It's you. My days are over. I'm done. I did it. I can't do it any more.
I live like a monk now. A very well fed monk, but a monk.
But you. Hey, aren't there other jobs. Bookstores? Can't you get a job at a theatre? Ticket taker or something?
ROSE: Don't change the subject. What about you?
LENNY: OK. Yeah, there's me. (Paces around a bit. Sits) I've done this…for 40 years. And this business…is a fucking monster. It is a stone killer, and it eats its young.
You finish past midnight every night. That's Happy Hour. You're on such an adrenaline rush after a big night you need a fifth of something just to regulate your heartbeat. Then you START drinking. Coke all night. You need it. Just to keep up the pace. Party till the sun comes up. Them, ya gotta get some sleep. So maybe inject something handy…so you can nod out a bit…
ROSE: You…did all…?
LENNY: And it's beautiful. It's wonderful. It is the most amazing life you can have. Your job is to make sure people have a good time. Surrounded by great food and wine. Lots of cash. Easy access to the best drugs on the planet. It's beautiful. Till it kills you.
All you do is work. Work. Drug. Drink. Next day do it all over again.
That was me. Every night. Every damn night. But it's not just me. It's all of us. Every one of us. Ah, a few people get clean, stay clean. The business runs on us. Runs us. Runs us down. And out.
You friends, lovers…you lose whole restaurants.
ROSE: Yeah, but….
And I've seen kids…lots of 'em. Good kids. Sweet, talented kids. Get caught up in this, and never get out.
There was…there was a girl. This goes back a bit. Carla. You…remind me of…She was an actress. I think she was good. This was just part time. She auditioned, did some stuff. But worked. At a restaurant. To make money. And got caught up. Oh, she made some money. And did some partying. Too much. And then…she was dead. Beautiful girl. Carla.
ROSE: So you and Carla…?
(Lenny just looks. Rose stops.)
LENNY: You're one of the good ones. The sweet ones. I don't want to lose you. Everybody likes you. Customers like you. They ask for you. Everybody on the staff. Likes you.
Places go through…periods…of…just like people. We were like that, for a while. Business was good. But there wasn't a lot of life. Not a lot of…joy.
And then you came. And everybody likes you. You're batshit crazy, but everybody likes you. Even Silvio.
ROSE: Silvio? Likes me?
ROSE: Silvio doesn't like anybody.
LENNY: No. Doesn't like me. But he likes you. And that's why this, I hate seeing this. You. Starting to get caught up in it. It starts like this. And before you know it, you don't care about the acting. You don't audition anymore. You have the fast easy money you make here. And you're going to make more. And you have parties every night.
That's not going to happen to you.
ROSE: No, it's not. Okay, I partied. I did. Maybe I will again. I don't know.
But I'm not one of them. I'm not Carla.
I like it here. I like the people. I like you.
I know what you're saying. I know about the restaurant business. But it's not going to get me, Lenny. It's not.
LENNY: I don't want to fire you. But…
ROSE: Who do you think I am? No, who? Pretty, sweet Rose? Sweet young girl?
Look, I've been in this city for three years. Making my own way. Doing every shit job you can think of to pay rent and eat!
So I work, and I audition. And I audition. And I audition. Do you know how many times I've been rejected at auditions. Do you?
LENNY: Uh, I don't…
ROSE: You don't want to know. But I keep doing it. Even though I'm in rooms now with girls younger than me. Prettier than me. OK OK, I have a decent body, good tits, but they could be bigger! I know that.
But I'm a good actress. And I'm going to keep it up till I get that good part.
I'm good. And I'm tough. How many times do you think you could stand being rejected? Huh?
So, listen. I want to work here. This is the best job I've ever had. And I'm going to keep auditioning. And Manny…and everybody…I mean, I going to have a drink with 'em now and then, OK? But no more of Manny's "After the After Party Party."
LENNY: (laughs in spite of himself)He still calls 'em that?
ROSE: And some day I'm going to get a big part. And then I'm going to quit this fucking business.
LENNY: Rose…I didn't want to…fire you…but…I wanted to…warn you.
So, what's the special tonight?
LENNY: Uh…now are you…did you get what I was trying to tell you…
ROSE: What's the special? C'mon! Not eggplant? Don't tell me eggplant. Did I see some Ducks back there?
(Lenny is silent)
ROSE: Were those Ducks?
LENNY: Yeah. And…some pheasants.
ROSE: Duck and Pheasant. On the same dish? Both?
ROSE: Is Chef on drugs?
(Lenny laughs. So does Rose.)
LENNY: Duck and Pheasant…He's going to fire-roast it. With red currant jelly.
ROSE: (thinks) That doesn't sound bad.
LENNY: It's fucking delicious.
ROSE: What else?
LENNY: Comes with Stuffed Leeks.
ROSE: Stuffed Leeks? You can stuff a Leek?
LENNY: Why not?
ROSE: Whatd'ya stuff 'em with?
LENNY: Blue Cheese, Raisins and Almonds.
LENNY: Fucking devastating.
ROSE: Anything else?
LENNY: Roasted Mushroom and Butternut Squash Tart.
ROSE: Sounds hearty.
LENNY: You betcha.
ROSE: Seafood special?
ROSE: Fucking Flounder.
ROSE: Why Flounder?
LENNY: It doesn't start with an 'S'.
ROSE: There's a lot about the restaurant business I don't understand.
LENNY: That's for damn sure.
LENNY: Black Bean.
LENNY: Always good.
ROSE: Wine specials?
LENNY: (laughs) Italian Chardonnay.
ROSE: Italian Chardonnay?
LENNY: Five cases we gotta move!
ROSE: Italian Chardonnay! That's like…Irish…Fried Rice.
LENNY: (laughs, nods) German…Barbecue.
ROSE: Thai…Hot Dogs.
LENNY: Greek…Pecan Pie.
(they both break into laughter.)
LENNY: Let's go to work.
ROSE: Yassir, Boss!
(they start to walk offstage, and stop as Rose asks…)
ROSE: Really? A cab from New York to Miami?
LENNY: Ah, we…it was freezing, we were drunk, watchin' MIAMI VICE, we said hey that looks good. So we said, let's call a cab. I mean we couldn't rent a car, we were drunk…we brought some good cheese, prosciutto, baguettes, wine, boombox, huge bag of weed…shared everything with the driver going down.
ROSE: How long did that take?
LENNY: Not bad…stopped in South Carolina for barbecue…Jacksonville, got some more weed, and Boom! You're There! South Beach!...Cuban sandwiches…
ROSE: Mojitos! (as they exit)
LENNY: Mojitos! Ay Yi Yi Yi Yi…!