The Dog Show

by Ivan Faute

CHARACTERS:

PAULINE – 60-something woman
SHAWNEE – 40-something woman

SETTING:

A sterile, institutional room.

(AT RISE: PAULINE sits in a white chair wearing simple cotton pajamas and slippers. It could be she is in nursing home gear, or it could be she is in some sort of institutional uniform. SHAWNEE wears business casual clothes and sits across in a matching chair. SHAWNEE sips from a small flask.)

PAULINE

Is it sweet?

SHAWNEE

Darling?

PAULINE

Sweet? I only used to like sweet drinks.

SHAWNEE

I suppose it’s sweet. What do you consider sweet?

PAULINE

I used to like a sidecar. You know sidecars?

SHAWNEE

No.

PAULINE

Sugar rim, some sour, bourbon – no…brandy. Brandy?

SHAWNEE

I wouldn’t know.

PAULINE

I’m pretty sure it was brandy…. No one drinks much brandy anymore.

SHAWNEE

Suppose not.

PAULINE
(Indicating flask.)

That’s not…

SHAWNEE

No. (Takes a drink.)

PAULINE

I remember used to be everyone’d have a decanter of all the liquors – brandy, gin, rye – little silver plaques on the jars – little nametags. Someone’d come over and you’d offer them a drink. “What will you have?” Very sociable.

SHAWNEE

Not like that anymore.

PAULINE

No, no one much shares anymore. (Pause.) So it’s…

SHAWNEE

Bourbon.

PAULINE

Of course – you can save that forever. Never goes bad.

SHAWNEE

You made up your mind yet?

PAULINE

About Vince?

SHAWNEE

Course.

PAULINE

I used to… back when Vince’s father and I was working with the dogs, we had a game. He’d go into a bar and bet some men that I could name any whiskey they’d pour. Just by the smell. They’d lay out six or seven shot glasses, fill them up with different whiskeys, and I’d move along and sniff them, one by one. Be able to name every one. When I got them all right, we’d get to keep them. We’d split them.

SHAWNEE

Not good for the liver, that.

PAULINE

No… haven’t done that for a long time. Since back when I had the dogs. Bet I still could.

(SHAWNEE considers. Unscrews the cap to the flask, quickly waves it under PAULINE’s nose.)

PAULINE

Isn’t as sensitive as it used to be.

(SHAWNEE places the flask under PAULINE nose again. PAULINE grabs hold the flask and tries to take it, but SHAWNEE holds on firmly. PAULINE takes a deep sniff.)

PAULINE

Not Jim Beam.

SHAWNEE

No.

PAULINE

Or Jack Daniels.

SHAWNEE

Never darling.

PAULINE

A little bit of apple smell.

(SHAWNEE blows across the top of the flask toward PAULINE.)

PAULINE

Wild Turkey. Haha. That’s it. Wild Turkey.

(In her excitement, PAULINE loses control of the flask. SHAWNEE gives PAULINE a salute with the flask and takes a short swig.)

PAULINE

If I got it right in the bar, I’d always get to keep them all.

SHAWNEE

This ain’t a bar.

PAULINE

They let me keep a little cup here. I use this to get water.

(SHAWNEE looks at PAULINE, pours the tiniest amount. PAULINE looks at her cup and drinks.)

SHAWNEE

Decide?

PAULINE

Why’s he want to come now? No reason to drag that back in here.

SHAWNEE

Wants to talk to you. That’s all I know. Maybe he misses you.

PAULINE

I didn’t do anything wrong.

SHAWNEE

No one said-

PAULINE

What did he do with Fortis?

SHAWNEE

Which one was he?

PAULINE

The male! The goddam male. If he sold them to the Amish….

When I’d take him to shows, Fortis, he always knew it. The best dog I ever had. He never liked the cold. When we were out on the road, afterwards, I’d go out and sit near the dogs. In the kennel, it’d get cold. After we’d spent all day together, training, and washing and then a show, and I’d brush them after and feed them. Vince and his father just wanted to go to bed, and forget about them. But Fortis was always anxious. So I’d go out and sit with him. It’d calm him down. They were good, course they were good. But it was cold. Fortis didn’t like it.

SHAWNEE

Is that the kennel where Vince found you sleeping?

(Pause.)

PAULINE

You’re as mean as your mother ever was.

SHAWNEE

Think I could snag some cherry juice from the kitchen? We could make Manhattans.

Fin


 

TheDogShow_Faute_photo_lgeIvan Faute teaches creative writing at Christopher Newport University. “The Dog Show” was developed in a workshop at Stage Left Theatre in Chicago under the tutelage of M.E.H. Lewis. A visual record of his dogs’ adventures can be found on Instagram at “tuliem.”

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