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  • Mary Ellen Swee

Demolition Queen - A 10-Minute Play

CHARACTERS:

FELIX STANZA, a wealthy builder, 50s

PAULETTE STANZA, wife of Felix, 40s

CALISTA STANZA, niece of Felix and Paulette, early 20s

JIMMY, boyfriend of Calista, late 20s


TIME:

A summer day.


PLACE:

An estate north of Chicago.

  

We are in the second-floor bedroom 

at an estate north of Chicago. In 

the background, there is the 

suggestion of French doors opening 

onto a balcony. In the foreground, 

a reclining chair evokes an 

elegant chaise lounge. A liquor 

bottle stands nearby on a small 

table. Sounds of partygoers at the 

swimming pool outside waft through 

the doors.


Looking vaguely disheveled, 

PAULETTE stretches out on the 

chair, an unfolded letter dangling

from one hand and a brandy snifter 

in the other. She wears a short, 

gauzy swimsuit cover-up. Her high

heeled sandals are tipped over on 

the floor. In his white sports 

jacket, FELIX gazes out the open 

doors.


FELIX

We’ll try again. 


FELIX closes the doors.


 PAULETTE

(tipsy)

You don’t even care.


 FELIX

I do care, dammit. I said, we’ll try again. Another agency. 


 PAULETTE

(waving the letter)

Another agency, another denial. Three years of denial.


FELIX

Paulette, what the hell. We’re throwing a party. Snap out of it. 


 PAULETTE

The Marvellos only had to wait six months for their adoption to go through. The application, that paperwork, interviews, home visits. It went fast. And now they’re —

 

FELIX

This is no time to re-play the Marvello fairy tale. 


PAULETTE

And now they’re happy.


FELIX

We have guests to think about, for God’s sake.

(pause)

Marty drove Momma all the way out here. With those screaming kids in that crappy car of his. Callie’s bringing her lawyer friend Jimmy to this middle of nowhere, so you can hold court.


 PAULETTE

We are not having guests, Felix. These people are freeloaders. (pause)

And I’m the cherry on top of a hot fudge mess – childless hostess to a freeloading family.


FELIX

Cut it out, Paulette. Look around at all the crap I get for you.  Just because you can’t have one little thing —


 PAULETTE

One little thing?! 

(pause)

A normal family, like the Marvellos. That’s all I want. 


FELIX

Let’s go down to the guests. You’ll feel better.


 PAULETTE

When your mother finds out about this one —

(holding the letter up)

She’ll turn our party into a funeral, for the barren daughter in-law of her favorite son.


FELIX

Don’t use that word.


 PAULETTE

What word? 


FELIX

‘Barren.’ It’s an ugly word.

 

 PAULETTE

It’s your mother’s word. It’s the word she uses to describe me.  Your whole family uses it.


FELIX

We’ll find another damn agency. 


FELIX abruptly turns back to the 

doors and looks toward the pool.


 PAULETTE

(listening as if to a sound from outside)

What’s that?


PAULETTE sets the letter and the 

glass down on the table.


FELIX

Nothing.


 PAULETTE

Nothing?


FELIX

A motorcycle. Callie’s here. With her lawyer friend Jimmy.


PAULETTE runs her fingers through 

her hair to smooth it out.


PAULETTE

What if she comes up? What if she brings Momma up?


FELIX

She won’t come up. 


PAULETTE

She always comes up.

(pause)

To smooch with her Uncle Felix.


FELIX

(turning back)

You’re way out of line, Paulette.


PAULETTE

It’s the truth. You smooch with your brother’s daughter.

 

FELIX

I paid the tuition so she could get some education at that fancy girls’ school. Marty’s hard up these days. That’s all.


 PAULETTE

And the convertible? Her new clothes?


FELIX

Look, let’s get you ready. Our guests are waiting.


PAULETTE sits up straight and 

adjusts her clothing. Crouching on 

the floor next to his wife, FELIX

helps her slip on her sandals.


 PAULETTE

Callie’s on her way up. I can feel it. 

(pause)

What should I say about the denial?


FELIX

Put a cork in it, Paulette. Callie won’t come up.


PAULETTE

(suspiciously)

What’s wrong? Something’s wrong.


FELIX

Nothing’s wrong.

(pause)

Maybe Callie will come up. 

(pause)

Paulette, she’s pregnant.


PAULETTE

Pregnant?


FELIX sits down on the chaise 

lounge, next to his wife.


FELIX

Callie’s expecting. With her lawyer friend. A baby.


PAULETTE

With the lawyer friend? 


FELIX

(placing his hand on her leg)

There are other damn agencies. We’ll try another agency.

 

PAULETTE

Felix, stop. It’s not the agencies.

(pause)

It’s us. 


CALISTA knocks on the bedroom 

door. She enters, wearing a very 

short sun dress. FELIX stands.


CALISTA

He got the job!


CALISTA runs to hug FELIX. 

In the law office near San Francisco! It’s real money, Jimmy says.


PAULETTE

San Francisco? 


CALISTA

Near San Francisco. In a valley. Where everything’s growing, and the money is —


PAULETTE

Real.


CALISTA

We already signed a lease. And there’s a hot tub in the yard.


FELIX

So Jimmy and you are heading out west?


CALISTA

(to Felix)

Don’t act like you’re surprised, Uncle.

(to Paulette)

Felix knows all about the moving. He practically got the job for Jimmy. He even found us the rental – with a hot tub in the yard!


PAULETTE

And the baby – what about the baby?


CALISTA

(to Felix)

She knows?


FELIX nods.


CALISTA 

You told her.


PAULETTE

Are you taking the baby?


FELIX

Of course, they are.


CALISTA

Of course, we are, Paulette. It’s our baby. Jimmy and me.


PAULETTE

But how will you manage –


FELIX

It’s their baby.


PAULETTE

Without Felix? Without me.

(pause)

How will we manage?


FELIX

(angrily)

Lay off, Paulette. It’s not Calista’s fault. She doesn’t have to give us what we can’t get on our own.

(to Calista)

She did it to herself, you know.


PAULETTE

Felix, no.


CALISTA

Jimmy says —


FELIX puts an arm around CALISTA.


FELIX

(to Calista)

She’s to blame. Not you, not me. She did it to herself. 


CALISTA

Jimmy says there’s a pool in our future. Like Felix and Paulette.

 

FELIX

In the beginning, she didn’t want one. She said a baby would screw with her figure.


PAULETTE

It wasn’t just me. 


FELIX removes his arm from around CALISTA.


FELIX

(to Paulette)

They waste your time. They wake you up. They scream. Right, Paulette? 

(pause)

So the doctor took care of things. Didn’t he? 

(to Calista)

He told her there’d be no going back. 


PAULETTE

The doctor told us.


FELIX retrieves the letter.


FELIX

The doctor said, once it’s done, it’s done. True to form, she changed her ever-loving mind.


PAULETTE

We changed our minds.


FELIX

(to Calista, increasingly agitated)

You know, I’m a builder. I was born to build things up. Tall, indestructible. But I’m married to the demolition queen. 


CALISTA 

(backing away)

Uncle, stop.


FELIX

She tears down. 


FELIX thrusts the letter in

CALISTA’s direction. CALISTA 

refuses to take it.

 

FELIX

Three years of denials! What the hell do they mean — ‘not  suitable’ Look around at all this crap.


CALISTA starts to whimper. JIMMY 

knocks on the bedroom door.


JIMMY

Calista?


PAULETTE

Look at us. 


JIMMY

(louder, entering bedroom)

Callie? 


CALISTA runs to JIMMY. FELIX goes 

to PAULETTE and sits on the bed.


JIMMY

(to Calista)

What happened?


CALISTA leans into JIMMY.


FELIX

There are other agencies. 


PAULETTE takes the letter from 

FELIX. She lowers her head.


JIMMY

Honey?


FELIX

If I have to build it with my own bare hands, 

(holds out his hands)

we’ll get an agency.


JIMMY

What did you do to her? What did you say?


FELIX

(coyly)

To Callie?

 

JIMMY

To make her cry.


FELIX

She was telling us about her future out west. Your future –


JIMMY

Like hell she was. 


FELIX

— your job, a new house –


PAULETTE

— the baby.


JIMMY

(to Felix)

Our baby.


FELIX stands and moves toward the 

French doors, his back turned to 

Jimmy.


JIMMY

I know about the girls, old man, your thrills, buildings from here to kingdom come. 


FELIX

Back off, Jimmy.


JIMMY

Towers that pierce the sky. That’s what Callie said.


PAULETTE

No more.


JIMMY

And a barren wife on top.


PAULETTE moans. She drops the 

letter on the floor. FELIX turns

and rushes at JIMMY. JIMMY 

releases CALISTA. FELIX pushes 

JIMMY down.


JIMMY

(struggling to get up)

But the only thing you want is what you can’t have.


FELIX shoves an open hand in 

the direction of JIMMY’s face.


FELIX

See this, boy. It feeds your pretty girlfriend. I’m warning you, don’t bite it.


PAULETTE

(to Jimmy)

Get out of my house.


JIMMY

(rising to his feet)

Callie and me, it’s our baby. And we can have a whole helluva lot more.


JIMMY puts his arm around CALISTA. 

They exit together.


FELIX

It was your unnatural deed.


PAULETTE

Our deed.

(softly)

There’s no undoing what we’ve done.


FELIX goes to the French doors, 

opens them, and looks out. The 

sound of partygoers drifts up to 

the bedroom from the pool below.


FELIX

(turns to his wife)

Our guests are waiting.


End of play.


Copyright © 2022 by Mary Ellen Swee.

All Rights Reserved.

All inquiries regarding rights should be addressed to:

Mary Ellen Swee

325 Wimbledon Court

Lake Bluff, IL 60044

847-922-5242


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