Editor’s Note: Contributor Jonathan Albert is a professor of theatre at Union College in Schenectady, NY where he teaches acting and playwriting. He will be contributing his original self-contained scenes, as well as scenes from longer form plays, and other contributions to Planet Arthur. Full disclosure; He is also the Owner of Putnam Den, a sponsor of Daily Planet Arthur. These contributions are not part of their sponsorship – it is just excellent writing!
Rose steps up into the front windows of the JC Penney storefront. She drops a heap of clothing onto the floor. She turns toward a mannequin, a masculine representation of man – stoic and tall in his solid stature.
You certainly put the “man” in mannequin, don’t ya. MANnequin. Man E. Quin. Quinny. Cutie.
Rose begins to undress the mannequin, slowly, seductively.
I don’t usually do this. Certainly not on a first date. I’ve never been able to do the one-night-stand thing ya know? I just… I have to be more invested.
His light summer jacket is now off.
Oh. I didn’t realize you had this under here.
She runs her hands along his pecs and arms.
You look good. So good! Why do you look so good to me??…. I am so weird.
She takes off his shirt in a cold unfeeling manner.
What would these plastic muscles look like on a real person? Real… You’re not real. This isn’t real. What is real anyway? What makes real real? There is no reality – there’s simply one’s perception of reality and a joint perception makes reality? But no two people truly see things the same way, so no two perceptions are the same, and if perception is reality then then no one sees reality as the same, nothing is true or real and here we live. This is a lonely, lonely world.
Rose speaks to the mannequin as if looking for an answer.
How did I end up here?
She waits for an answer that doesn’t come and drops her head.
And why are you wearing freaking sandals?! No self-respecting dude wears sandals- except to the beach. Does this look like the beach? You’re not at the beach! You’re… We’re…
Rose looks around.
I don’t know where we are.
She looks back at the mannequin. Very matter-of-fact…
I’m going to take off your pants now.
She quickly stops.
Wait- what? No… No I… I’m not… I know you are about to be naked but I am not taking off my clothes… No. I’m not. I don’t care what’s fair or not fair… I’m taking off your pants now… No I am not- I refuse to get naked with you. It’s inappropriate. And like I said – I don’t do this. This is a new… and unusual… experience for me.
She puts her hands in his waistband and unbuttons his pants. She drops his pants to his ankles and marvels at the mannequin’s bulge.
That’s interesting. Now what are we supposed to do with that?
Alright. Here’s your fall attire. Fall into fall… Man – I don’t remember abs feeling like that.
Rose runs her hands over his abs and feels his pecs.
What the… What’s wrong with me?
Rose continues to run her hands over his shoulders and arms and chest and abs. She puts her other hand down her own pants. She feels him. She feels herself and breathes heavily, falling into him, losing herself. She continues for a moment or two or three…. then suddenly snaps out of it. She slaps the mannequin across the face and then pushes him. Hard. He falls back.
You are a piece of plastic – an inanimate idea of… something that I am twisting into… something else that I think is familiar but is is sooo wildly unfamiliar to me… to me… To me you are perfect.
She struggles to get him back up and begins to dress him in his new outfit- black pants, running sneakers, white v-neck t-shirt and loose sweatshirt over it.
You listen when I talk. You show me unconditional attention and support. You stand up, stand tall, strong, steadfast. Mmmm and your shoulders…
She looks at the other mannequins.
And you’re loyal. Thank you for your steadfast loyalty. And… and for letting me dress you.
The mannequin is dressed now. Rose steps back, and looks at her work. She fixes how the sweatshirt is draped on his shoulders. She sweetly kisses the mannequin on the cheek and lets her hand run across his shoulders and chest as she walks away leaving him. She lingers for another second or two, stopping to look back at him. Then… she goes.