Season 1/Episode 2: The Diner

by Jessica Wright Buha

Content advisories for this episode can be found below.

This episode features: Shariba Rivers as Lily, Marsha Harman as Dot, LaQuin Groves as Dale, Michael Turrentine as Wes, Kathleen Hoil as Abbie, Sebastian Orr as **&$@&, Ele Matelan as ##$#@%.

Written by Jessica Wright Buha, sound design by Eli McIlveen, directed by Jeffrey Nils Gardner, music composed by Stephen Poon, Music on the radio by Stardusk Encounter, Sadie and the Stark, and Action Camp, recording engineer Mel Ruder, Unwell lead sound designer Ryan Schile, Executives Producers Eleanor Hyde and Jeffrey Gardner, by HartLife NFP.

Content Advisories. This episode contains:

Misgendering of a nonbinary person (quickly corrected)
Descriptions of spoiled food
Extensive discussions of food
Mild jump scares
Threatening people
Fire
Conflict within family

 SCENE 1.


THE BOARDING HOUSE KITCHEN. THE MUFFLED THUNK AND CLATTER OF CANNED GOODS AS THEY ARE TAKEN HASTILY OFF THEIR SHELVES. SCRATCHING AS THE CANS SLIDE ACROSS WOODEN SHELVES IN THE BASEMENT.

DOTTIE:                 (off) What's all that clanking?

             

DOTTIE, ON CRUTCHES, COMES DOWN THE BASEMENT STAIRS. CLANK OF CANS. THUNK-THUNK OF CANS.

                    Who's in the pantry.

                        THUNK-THUNK OF CANS. A CAN ROLLS.

                    God, tell me it’s not rats.

Rodents! If you don’t scram ASAP, I’m crushing skulls!

   

LILY:                    (off) It's just me!

DOTTIE:                 Oh, Lily. Get out of there.


DOTTIE AND HER CRUTCHES THUNK DOWN

THE STEPS.

LILY:                    (off) Careful on the stairs!

DOTTIE:                 Stop snooping through my stuff.

DOTTIE AND HER CRUTCHES WALK

ACROSS THE FLOOR AND GO INTO THE

PANTRY.

LILY:                 Okay, this? This can? Mom, you could sell this can on ebay

                    and make a fortune. "Azodicarbonamide." That is not a

                    legal ingredient anymore.

DOTTIE:                 Gives it flavor.

LILY:                 Are you joking?

DOTTIE:                If you're hungry, I'll heat you up some casserole, but don't                         mess with / all the cans.

                        WES COMES DOWN THE STAIRS.

LILY:                 Someone is going to get sick.


                        A CAN IS SLAMMED DOWN.

                    This one says expires May 1998.

WES:                     Lilian, they're not dented and bulging. I really think / they're fine.

LILY:                 You're not supposed to eat / them after they're expired.

DOTTIE:                 Everybody knows canned food doesn't go / bad, Lillian.

LILY:                 Then why do they print an expiration / date on there.

DOTTIE:                 They don't--Lily, they just don't want to get sued.

LILY:                    BY PEOPLE WHO GET SICK FROM EATING EXPIRED CANNED GOODS.

DOTTIE:         Why are you messing around with the cans anyway?

        You’re just being nosey--I'm gonna buy some on eBay and

        mix em up in here just so you go, Oh, Mom, you're losing

        it, this expired in 1938!

LILY:                    Funny.

                        CANS CLINK AS LILY SIFTS THROUGH THEM.

DOTTIE:                 What, are you hungry or something?

LILY:                    I mean, it's dinnertime.

DOTTIE:                 Come on, I'll heat you up some casserole.

LILY:                    I threw em away.

DOTTIE:                 You threw them away?

WES:                     Even the ham balls one?

LILY:                    I just / thought—


WES:                     That one was good.

LILY:                    They've been in the fridge for four days.

DOTTIE:                 So?

LILY:                    So I threw them out. I'm helping you.

DOTTIE:                 You need to relearn what that word means.

LILY:                    I'm protecting you! Really three days is the maximum you

                    want to keep food in there--I let you keep / them for an

                    extra--

DOTTIE:                 You only keep shit in your fridge for three days?

LILY:                    I don't keep any SHIT in my fridge MOM, that's / why we invented septic systems.

DOTTIE:                 You're crazy. Who raised you?

                        LILY IS SPEECHLESS.

LILY:                    Ah.

WES:                     Okay, Lilian, I think what we're all trying to say is

                    that the casseroles were symbols of love for you from the

                    town, and it was a shame to waste them. / That's all.

DOTTIE:                 I can't believe you threw away free food.

LILY:                    I had to! It's a safety thing.

DOTTIE:                 Since when do you have such a stick up your ass about /food safety

LILY:                    This is basic / sanitation.


DOTTIE:                 They had a few more days before they were truly / a health hazard--

LILY:                    You were going to wait til you got sick?

                        THE RADIATORS START TO CLANG.

                    You'd wait til I was driving you to the hospital, and then

                    you'd say, THEN YOU'D SAY, HEY, I THINK IT'S TIME

                    TO TOSS ALL THOSE CASSEROLES? HUH?

                        THE CLANGING OF THE RADIATORS GROW

                        TO A CACOPHONY.

            Sorry.

                        THE RADIATORS ARE SILENT.


DOTTIE:                 The ghosts also mourn the loss of the ham balls, Wes.

                        FOOTSTEPS DOWN THE BASEMENT STAIRS.

                        ABBIE ENTERS.

ABBIE:                 Whom do I thank for throwing away the casseroles?

DOTTIE:                 Abbie, meet Lily.

ABBIE:                 Eternal thanks--they were becoming a non-option.

DOTTIE:                 Lily's the other boarder.

LILY:                    And her daughter.

                    Abbie--cool. Nice to meet you. So you’re boarding here?

ABBIE:                 Yep.

LILY:                 All right. I’m digging this Virginia-Woolf vibe going on.

                    Every gal with a room of her own.

ABBIE:                Person with a room of their own, in my case.

LILY:                    Oh, I'm so sorry. Their. Sorry.

ABBIE:                 It's all right.  

LILY:                 I'm so sorry--I don't know why I said “her” when I didn’t

                    know / what your correct—I should have

                    asked.

DOTTIE:                 Wes, help me fish these out of here.


                        CLANKING OF CANS AS DOT TAKES THE

                        CANS OUT OF THE TRASH CAN.

LILY:                 I'm sorry.

ABBIE:                 Too many apologies make it weird.

LILY:                 Sorry--

                        MORE CLANKING OF CANS AS DOT TAKES

                        THE CANS OUT OF THE TRASH CAN.

                    --Mom, put those cans back in the trash, or I'm dumping

                    them down the toilet.

DOTTIE:                 Fine.

                        CANS TUMBLE BACK INTO THE TRASH

                        CAN.

DOTTIE [CONT'D]:         She was always so dramatic.

LILY:                 Okay. Who wants food? I'll get some takeout.

WES:                     From where?

LILY:                 From a restaurant, Wes.

WES:                     But Sunrise is closed.

LILY:                 Yeah, well, good, I'm not eating blueberry scones for dinner.

WES:                     But there's nowhere else.

LILY:                 There's something open.


WES:                     This is a small town. Simple people, simple pleasures--

                    there's no late-night steakhouses or twenty-four hour

                    diners.

ABBIE:                 Except for the twenty-four hour diner on Ash.

WES:                     Yes, that would be magically convenient, but it’s not that

                    kind of town.

ABBIE:                 There IS a twenty-four hour diner. It's on Ash and 3rd--

                    called Hunters? Sounds meat-forward, so not for me, but

                    for those who eat the flesh of the innocent, sure.

WES:                     There’s no diner.  

ABBIE:                Yes? There is?

WES:                     There’s no diner. / There’s none. No diner. I know for a

                    fact there’s no diner.

ABBIE:                 I just drove past it yesterday and I’ve been driving past it

                    for the last month.

WES:                     IT’S NOT THAT KIND OF TOWN.

ABBIE:                 I don't know what that means.

DOTTIE:                 Wes, honey, it's okay. It's nice a new place opened up.

LILY:                 A twenty-four hour diner. I would've loved that in high

                    school. Where is it? Ash and Third?

ABBIE:                 Yep.

WES:                     That's impossible.

LILY:                 Ash and Third, got it. All right, I think I'm just going to

                    walk.

DOTTIE:                 You can't walk--it's two / miles.

LILY:                 Be back in a bit.

    THE THRUMMING MUSIC OF THE PHOEBETOR TAKES US TO THE NEXT SCENE


SCENE 2.

                        LILY WALKS ALONG THE SIDE OF THE

                        ROAD. SHOES CRUNCH ON THE GRAVEL.

LILY:                 What am I doing here. Oh, man. Oh, man-o-man.

                        LILY DIALS HER PHONE. PHONE RINGS.

DALE:                 (D) Hey.

LILY:                 Hey, how's it going.

DALE:                (D) Good. What's going on.

LILY:                 Mom’s driving me up a tree and you can't walk anywhere

                    here.

DALE:                (D) You used to like going to that ice cream place in town.

LILY:                 Yeah, the house is not "in town." Remember the place you

                    dropped me off at every summer? Remember how creepy

                    and old and middle-of-nowhere and literally-right-next-

                    door-to-a-cemetery it was?

DALE:                (D) I do.

LILY:                 Yeah, she's still living there. And the ice cream place closes

                    at like noon. So.

DALE:                (D) You are doing a good thing being there for her.

LILY:                 How'd she manage to guilt trip me this hard. She wasn't

                    even around.

DALE:                (D) You spent summers with her. She called, she sent

                    letters, she did what she could.

LILY:                 I just don't see why I have to feel sorry for her, she never--

             

                        A SUDDEN SWARM OF INSECTS BUZZ.

                    ACK.

DALE:                (D) What? What's going on? Lily!

LILY:                 There's all the sudden all these gnats. I think one's in my

                    mouth.

                        LILY SPITS AND SPITS.

DALE:                (D) Okay--hang in there, darling. Better out than in. At

                    least it's not a pair of rabid dogs?

LILY:                 Ugh. This place is wild.

DALE:                (D) Well, you're a wild kid, so you'll fit right in.

LILY:                 Thanks.

DALE:                (D) Lilybelle, look. She's a good person, you're a good

                    person. There's no crime in the two of you helping each

                    other out.

LILY:                 I don't need her help.

DALE:                (D) Maybe you need someone to talk to. You've both been

                    through--(SEVERE DISTORTION) some hard stuff.

LILY:                 What?

DALE:                (D) And it might be good--(SEVERE DISTORTION)

LILY:                 Dad? Hello? Dad!

                        THE CALL IS LOST.

LILY:                 Shit.

                        FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL. BIRDS.

LILY:                 Ah, where is this place.

                        CAR ENGINE APPROACHES. CAR STOPS.

                        WINDOW ZIPS DOWN. MUSIC PLAYS

ABBIE:                 Hey.

LILY:                 Hey.

ABBIE:                 Abbie.

LILY:                 Right—I remember from twenty minutes ago.

ABBIE:                 You want a ride.

LILY:                 Thanks, but I just need to be alone for a bit.

ABBIE:                 It's going get dark pretty soon. Have you ever been

                    out at night in a Dark Sky Town?

LILY:                     I’ve been outside at night before, yes.

ABBIE:                 But you can’t see anything in a Dark Sky Town. Nothing but the stars and shadows. No houses. No streetlights. And the thoughts in your head suddenly sound really loud.

LILY:                     Huh.

ABBIE:                 Not to mention all the bird and insect and animal

                    noises.

LILY:                     Got it.

ABBIE:                 And there’s this strange sensation when you walk

                    around. The darkness presses in all around you. Is it a

                    hug or gentle suffocation?

LILY:                     Okay, you’ve convinced me.

ABBIE:                 No, I like it—I just know it freaks some people out, and

                    I thought you should be aware.

LILY:                     Cool, thanks. Yeah, I’ll take a ride. Faster.

                        FOOTSTEPS ON ASPHALT. CAR DOOR

                        OPENS AND CLOSES. ENGINE REVVS AWAY.



                        SCENE 3.

                        INSIDE ABBIE'S CAR. ENGINE RUMBLES,

                        WIND RUSHES, THE RADIO PLAYS SOME

                        GENERIC ROCK MUSIC.

SINGERS:                 (SINGING) WYSG, all the hits, all the time.


JINGLE: You look like a celery soda

Bright and crispy and o so tasty

Treat me like a celery soda

Drink me up and say hooray!

ANNOUNCER: Celeric Bottling Works, Mount Absalom, Ohio.

ABBIE: (OVER THE JINGLE) I can't stand this jingle. It plays all the time.

LILY: Just listen to a podcast or something.

ABBIE: Eh, it's legitimate data.



                        ROCK SONG PLAYS ON THE RADIO.

LILY:                 Are you researching the town?

ABBIE:                 I am. I received a grant to examine the architectural

                    landscape of small towns in varying levels of decay.

LILY:                 Why?

ABBIE:                 Because my expenses / must be paid for.

LILY:                 No, no--why is this important to you? Do you think that

                    anything can be done for this place?

ABBIE:                 For "rural small-town decay?" Of course. There

                    should be--and this is my eventual goal--doctors for small

                    towns themselves, who diagnose the problems, draw up a

                    treatment plan, and cure. The doctorate I'm pursuing is in

                    history with a focus on urban planning, and with that

                    background, hopefully--

LILY:                 Doctorate. Jesus.

ABBIE:                 You can't throw enough knowledge at this problem. We

                    can fix rural blight. The answers are in contemporary data

                    and the primary documents of the past--it just requires

                    study. The best paths for the future lie in our past.

LILY:                     Huh.

                    If you get a doctorate in ANYTHING, do people still have

                    to call you "doctor"?

ABBIE:                 Yes.

LILY:                 That's cool.

ABBIE:                 What's your area?

LILY:                 What do I do for work, you mean? I'm a customer service

                    rep for Spoodle. I work remotely--I'm sure you've heard

                    me. "Thank you for calling Spoodle Support, this is Lillian,

            can I have the email address associated with your account?"

ABBIE:                 It's rude to eavesdrop, unless it's for Science.

                        THE RADIO PLAYS. THEY DRIVE IN

                        SILENCE.

LILY:                 There really isn't even like a pizza-by-the-slice place here?

ABBIE:                 Maybe in Julian.

LILY:                 A Chinese place? No one thought to open one in the

                    million years since I've been here?

ABBIE:                 Julian might have one.

LILY:                 Oh my God, that's like an hour away. I can't.

ABBIE:                 I'm not driving you there, certainly.

LILY:                 All right. Where's that diner?

BASS NOTES AND SCRATCHING MUSIC AS THE SCENE TRANSITIONS.

                        SCENE 4.

                        HUNTER'S DINER. MUZAC PLAYS. THE HISS

                        OF THE GRIDDLE. SOFT MUTTER OF

                        CONVERSATION.  

ABBIE:                 I don't know why Wes didn't believe me about this place.

                    It'd be such a strange thing to lie about.

LILY:                 When did it open?

ABBIE:                 Forty, forty-five years ago?

LILY:                 No, no--this definitely wasn't here when I was a kid.

ABBIE:                 Hm. Well, themed diners aren't uncommon, though I'm not

                    sure who's nostalgic for 1970s wood paneling and orange

                    carpet.  

LILY:                 But it even, like, smells old. Don't you think?

ABBIE:                 You're probably just smelling all the taxidermy.

FOOTSTEPS AS THE WAITRESS APPROACHES.

WAITRESS:                 Welcome to Hunter's. Two for dinner?

LILY:                 No, sorry, can we see a menu? We just want to get a few

                    things to go.

WAITRESS:                 Dining-in is optimal.

LILY:                 Yeah, I bet, but we can't. Hungry people at home.

WAITRESS:                 Shame.

                        A VERY AWKWARD PAUSE.

LILY:                 Okay--I actually don't need a menu, let's just get... I

                    don't know, three cheeseburgers and fries, and a grilled

                    cheese.

ABBIE:                 And onion rings.

WAITRESS:                 I'm afraid we don't have grill-ed cheese.

ABBIE:                 Then a cheeseburger without the burger.

WAITRESS:                 Very good.

                        ANTIQUE CASH REGISTER KEYS TAP.

                    Sixteen seventy-two is your total.

LILY:                 Okay. Do you take cards?

WAITRESS:                 Cash only, I'm afraid.


                        BILLS EXCHANGED. CHANGE IS SLID OUTOF A CASH DRAWER WITH A CLINK.

                    One twenty-eight is your change.

LILY:                 Thanks.

ABBIE:                 Let me give you something for this.

LILY:                 That's okay. It was…not expensive.

WAITRESS:                 Allow ten minutes.

LILY:                 Sounds great.  

MUSIC TRANSITION INTO NEXT SCENE- BASS WARBLE

                        SCENE 5.

                        BOARDING HOUSE OFFICE.  RUSTLE OF

                RECEIPTS AND TO-DO LISTS. A CLOCK

WES:                     So I called about the tuckpointing. They gave me a quote--

                    it sounds fair.

DOTTIE:                Sure, do it. (PAUSE.) Can you throw clean sheets on Lily's

                    bed?

WES:                     I have down that we're changing the linens on Saturday. Do

                    you feel like we should move that up?

DOTTIE:                 No, it's all right. That used to make her feel better, but--

                    Saturday's fine. (PAUSE.) I should make her a cake.

WES:                     Most everything's in the trash.

DOTTIE:                 I should've baked one when she got here. (PAUSE) This

                    should feel like home.

WES:                     I will put out some tea.

MUSIC TRANSITION INTO NEXT SCENE- BASS WARBLE


                        SCENE 6

                        HUNTER'S. MUZAK, SOFT CONVERSATION,

                        CLINK OF DINNERWARE.

LILY:                 Seriously, who thought wall-to-wall orange carpeting was

                    the way to go.

ABBIE:                 Sets the mood.

LILY:                 Yeah, of a dusty, moldy-- (PAUSE.) Hey, where's

                    the--

WAITRESS:                 I have your order here, madame.

LILY:                 Excuse me, hi, can I speak to the manager?

                CURTAIN FLAPS AS THE PROPRIETOR APPEARS

THE PROPRIETOR:         Yes, I'm the Proprietor.

LILY:                 I noticed there's no sign about the results of your last health                     inspection? Do you have a sanitation certificate I could see?

THE PROPRIETOR:         Ah, I guess you're from the Big City, full of Mistrust

                    towards One's Fellow Man. (PAUSE.) I say that there's no

                    need for a health inspection.

LILY:                 Okay, why?

THE PROPRIETOR:         Because I am a gentleman.

                        LILY STANDS IN BAFFLED SILENCE. MUZAK

                        PLAYS. BARFLIES MUTTER.

LILY:                 All right, let's just take our food and leave. Bye.

                        FOOTSTEPS. HEAVY DOOR SLAMMING.

WAITRESS:                 Shame. They should have dined in.

THE PROPRIETOR:         Would have been optimal.

MUSIC TRANSITION INTO NEXT SCENE- BASS WARBLE


                        SCENE 7.

                        CAR ZOOMING. RADIO PLAYS.

LILY:                    What are the odds we're going to die if we eat this food?

ABBIE:                It's probably fine.

                        LILY SQUEEZES THE BAG.

LILY:                    It doesn't even feel that warm. It should be at least a

                    hundred and forty five degrees.

ABBIE:                 One of a myriad advantages of vegetarianism. I anticipate

                    minimal e-coli lurking in my grilled cheese, so please hand

                    it over before I collapse from hunger.  

                    Seriously, so hungry--just dig it out and I'll eat it right now.

                        LILY DIGS THROUGH THE BAG.

LILY:                 They just gave us four burgers.

ABBIE:                 Vigilante meat-eating fucks. (PAUSE.) Why the interest in

                    sanitation? Does that come up a lot during Spoodle

                    customer service.

LILY:                 I worked as the assistant manager of a Starbucks a couple

                    years ago and had to get my Food Sanitation Certificate. It

                    seems silly to worry about it, but people can get really sick.

                    And it's so easy to prevent.

ABBIE:                So I can't just eat one onion ring.

LILY:                 No, I'm sorry--it's just--it's so dumb, I know, but I just

                    would hate for anyone to get sick.

ABBIE:                 My hunger is such that my stomach is on fire.

LILY:                 I'm sorry.

                        LILY UNROLLS HER WINDOW WITH A ZIP.

                Eat and be merry, woodland creatures.

                        LILY THROWS THE BAG OUT THE WINDOW.

                        IT HITS THE GROUND WITH A THUNK.

                    But they won't--they'll probably all come down with

                    trichinosis.

                    Okay, so dinner. What's the plan.


ABBIE:                 There's a Seven-Eleven right outside of town. I can make a

                    mean frozen pizza.

MUSIC TRANSITION INTO NEXT SCENE- BASS WARBLE

                        SCENE 8.

                        BOARDING HOUSE KITCHEN. 1950S CAT

                        CLOCK TICKS. IT MEOWS THE HOUR.

DOTTIE:                 (OFF) Lily, are you back yet?

                        THE CAT CLOCK TICKS.

DOTTIE:                 Did they get lost?

                        THE DOOR SWINGS OPEN.

LILY:                 We're here! We got some pizza--give us twenty minutes to

                    / make it.

ABBIE:                 Ten to twelve minutes--every pizza's different.

DOTTIE:                 (OFF) Where's the food?

LILY:                 WE'RE MAKING A PIZZA. The diner was...


ABBIE: Weird.

LILY: Closed.


ABBIE:                 So weird it might as well have been closed.

LILY:                 We'll have something on the table soon.

DOTTIE:                 (OFF) Drink some tea!

LILY:     Okay? (to ABBIE) I don't know what she’s—. What'm I preheating it to?

ABBIE:                 Four-twenty-five.

LILY:                 Okay.

                        LILY TURNS A CREAKY DIAL.

                    Whoa, this oven is old.

ABBIE:                 You know there are municipal water pipes in Philadelphia

                    that are over two hundred years old.

LILY:                 Really? No.

ABBIE:                 Yeah--Google it. They're made of wood.

LILY:                 Wild. (PAUSE.) Hey, random, but what's your read on

                    Wes?

ABBIE:                 He's fine. Tidy. Polite. I feel like he’s a boy scout.

LILY:                    I don't know. He acts like he runs things.

ABBIE:                 He kinda does.

LILY:                 He doesn't--he's just the "assistant curator of the house" or

                    whatever Mom calls him--he's a tour guide who knows

                    where the brooms are.

                    Can I just throw the pizza in now?

ABBIE:                 I guess. It won't be as crispy, but it'll get done marginally

                    faster.

LILY:                 That's the goal.

                        CLANG AS THE OVEN IS OPENED. SLIDE OF

                        PIZZA IN. OVEN DOOR IS CLANGED SHUT.

ABBIE:                 I think Wes is good for Dottie. He helps her find her

                    crutches. It's unironically heartwarming.

LILY:                 That's the thing--he treats her like an old lady. It's insane--

                    she's only sixty-three.

ABBIE:                 What's that smell.

LILY:                 What smell?

ABBIE:                Something's weird, turn it off.

LILY:                 No, why? It's / still—

ABBIE:                 Turn it off.

LILY:                    It's still preheating--that's just / dust.

ABBIE:                 No, something's burning.

                        DOTTIE AND HER CRUTCHES START DOWN

                        THE STAIRS.

LILY:                 It's just some cheese or something / that's dripped.

ABBIE:                 Turn it off!

LILY:                 Why?

ABBIE:                 There's smoke!

LILY:                 There's no--o shit.

                        FIRE ALARM BLARES. DOTTIE REACHES

                        THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS AND ENTERS

                        THE KITCHEN.

DOTTIE:                 What the hell is that smell?

ABBIE:                 What dial is it?

LILY:                 It's just some cheese--/ it's just preheating!

DOTTIE:                 Are you burning down / my goddamned house?

ABBIE:                 HOW DO YOU TURN IT OFF? / WHERE'S CANCEL?

LILY:                 I DON'T KNOW I DON'T KNOW I DON'T KNOW!

ABBIE:                  WES!

WES:                     There's no cancel, there's just a dial. I'll do it.

                        THE CLICK OF A DIAL.

                    Leave it closed, it'll burn itself out. Now, let's open the

                    back door--

                        WES OPENS THE BACK DOOR. NIGHT

                        SOUNDS RUSH IN--CRICKETS, THE WIND,

                        THE WINDCHIMES.

            Abbie, you want to fan it a little?

                        THE SWOOP OF THE DOOR AS IT FANS.

                    Brooms are right here, so let's just give it a poke

                        THE FIRE ALARM TURNS OFF.

                    And that's that.


DOTTIE:                 Put a fire extinguisher on the wall next to the stove.

WES:                     I'll do it tomorrow.

LILY:                 All I did was turn it on.

DOTTIE:                 You're saying the oven just caught on fire.

LILY:                 It's really old! You should get it replaced.

DOTTIE:                 I've used it every day for twenty-four years and it's never

                    started spewing out smoke two seconds after I started / using it.

LILY:                 THIS IS NOT MY FAULT.

DOTTIE:                 Well, I don’t know who else you can blame it on.

LILY:                 The pizza was in there for five seconds. It was something

                    else.

CLANG OF THE OVEN OPENING.

DOTTIE:                 Don’t let the smoke out!

HISS OF SMOKE. SIZZLE OF BURNT CAKE

BATTER.

LILY:                 Pizza still frozen, okay, so that wasn’t what was on fire.

SLAP OF THE PIZZA HITTING THE FLOOR.

ABBIE:                 (LOW) That was probably still good.

LILY:                 There’s something metal in—[here.] Oh, wow.

WES:                     What?

Oh.

LILY:                 Who put a cake in the oven and forgot to turn it on?

DOTTIE:                 Oh, shit.

LILY:                 You did this?

DOTTIE:                 I was making it for YOU.

LILY:                 And then it, what, just slipped your mind? Forget I was

                    coming?

DOTTIE:                 No. I have other things I’m doing, Lilian, other than sitting

                    around waiting for / you to grace me with your presence.

LILY:                 Yeah, I get it. I get it. All right.

DOTTIE:                 So a pan of raw cake batter just burst into flames? That

                    what happened?

LILY:                 No. It spilled.

WES:                     You must have knocked the pan over when you put the

                    pizza in.

LILY:                 Thanks, Wes.

DOTTIE:                 There’s cake batter all over the oven?

ABBIE SNIFFS

ABBIE:                 Ripely aged cake batter.

WES:                     This is going to be tricky to clean. It might have dripped into the gas line.

DOTTIE:                 LILY!

LILY:                 Try to blame this on me.

DOTTIE:                 Who doesn’t check to see if there’s anything in the oven?

LILY:                 WHO LEAVES STUFF IN THE OVEN?

WES:                     I’ll deep-clean it tomorrow. It’s fine.

LILY:                 Wes, shut up.

DOTTIE:                 Don’t talk to him like that! This was your fuckup.

LILY:                 Don’t talk to me like that.

I don’t have to be here. There’s no court order anymore

saying I have to see you.

DOTTIE:                 I know.

LILY:                    Remember, I can leave whenever I want.

DOTTIE:                 I know.

LILY:                 I want to stay, but--

DOTTIE:                 I need to be nicer, or you’ll leave.

LILY:                 No. No, see—that’s not what I mean at all. I want to help

                    you, and just—it’s hard sometimes. Okay?

DOTTIE:                 Okay. I'm going upstairs.

                        FOOTSTEPS TOWARDS THE STAIRS.

LILY:                 You want some cereal, Mom?

                    I'm gonna make myself some / cereal.

DOTTIE:                 No.

                        DOTTIE'S FOOTSTEPS UP THE STAIRS.

WES:                     Dottie? Dottie, can I bring you something to eat?

                        WES'S FOOTSTEPS UP THE STAIRS. THE

                        SWOOSH OF THE KITCHEN DOOR. THE CAT

                        CLOCK TICKS. THE WINDCHIMES CHIME ON

                        THE BACK PORCH.

                        CLINK OF SILVERWARE IN A BOWL,

                        RUSH/CRUSH OF CORN FLAKES GOING INTO

                        A BOWL, THE GLUG OF MILK.

LILY:                 Isn't your arm getting tired?

ABBIE:                 Nope.

                        CLINK OF SILVERWARE, CHEWING. THE

                        SWOOSH OF THE KITCHEN DOOR.

ABBIE:                 (singing, in time with the door) You look like a celery soda

                    Bright and crisp and o so tasty

                    Treat me like a celery soda

                    Drink me up and say hooray!

                    Sorry, stuck in my head.

                        FOOTSTEPS down the stairs. WES enters.

WES:                     Smell's going away.

ABBIE:                 Yep.

LILY:                 How's Mom?

WES:                     She said she's going to bed.

LILY:                 Why?

WES:                     She's been going to sleep pretty early recently.

LILY:                 Did she have any dinner?

WES:                     She said she wasn't hungry.

LILY:                 You gotta make her eat something

WES:                     I can make her eat?

                        A BITTER SILENCE. THE CAT CLOCK TICKS.

                        ABBIE SWOOSHES THE DOOR.

LILY:                 I don't know.

WES:                     Okay.

                        WES STEPS TOWARDS THE DOOR.

ABBIE:                 Night, Wes.

WES:                     Night.

                        WES'S FOOTSTEPS FADE.

LILY:                 Seriously, I can fan the kitchen for a while.

ABBIE:                 I'm really sensitive to smells. I'll just do it til it's gone.

LILY:                 All right.

                        THE SOUND OF A BANJO.

                What the hell is that?


                        SCENE 9.

                        FRONT PORCH. NIGHT SOUNDS. WES

                        STRUMS A BANJO-LIKE INSTRUMENT. LILY

                        STEPS OUTSIDE.

WES:                     Evening.

LILY:                 What's with the banjo.

WES:                     It's a banjeaurine.

LILY:                 Sure.

WES:                     I keep it here in case we're a little light on tours.

                        A STRUM. WES PLAYS. HE'S VERY GOOD.

LILY:                 Nice.

WES:                     Lots of time to practice. The ghosts of Fenwood House don't get the attention they deserve.

LILY:                 Shouldn't you, like... go home?


WES:                     Dottie's had trouble sleeping. I want to be here in case she

                    needs me.


LILY:                 (deeply sarcastic) Needs you to, what--tuck her back in?


WES:                     Lilian, she's a good woman. She deserves kindness.

LILY:                 Okay, here's a question: why does everyone keep saying

                    that? She's not.  She left me.


WES:                     She had a job to do.

LILY:                 Okay, well, I think she's done with her job, and now she's

                    just an asshole.

WES:                     She's nervous because she wants to impress you.

LILY:                 That's not.... That's not what's going on. (PAUSE.)

                    It's getting late. You need to just go home.


WES:                     I appreciate your concern. I'll leave in a bit.

LILY:                 You want me to call your parents so they don’t worry?


WES:                     No.

                        WES STRUMS THE BANJEURINE.


LILY:                    Do you even have / parents

WES:                     I already called them. I have a phone.

LILY:                 Okay. Night.

WES:                     Night.

    LILY GOES BACK INSIDE. WES PLAYS THE BANJEURINE. THE WIND CHIMES SOUND. HE HARMONIZES WITH THEM.  NIGHT SOUNDS. THE SWOOSH OF THE KITCHEN DOOR.

THE THEME SONG COMES IN- STOMPING FEET, RHYTHMIC GUITAR, AND PRONOUNCED BANJO.

CREDITS:        This episode features: Shariba Rivers as Lily, Marsha Harman as Dot, LaQuin Groves as Dale, Michael Turrentine as Wes, Kathleen Hoil as Abbie, Sebastian Orr as [DISTORTED], Ele Matelan as [DISTORTED].

MUSIC BREAK-A HAUNTING SUNG NOTE     

        Written by Jessica Wright Buha, sound design by Eli McIlveen, directed by Jeffrey Nils Gardner, music composed by Stephen Poon, recording engineer Mel Ruder, Unwell lead sound designer Ryan Schile, Executives Producers Eleanor Hyde and Jeffrey Gardner, by HartLife NFP.

THE STRANGE BASS NOTE RETURNS


Notorious serial poisoner Deirdre Abernathy stayed at the Fenwood House for two nights in the April of 1935. Fortunately, she was not allowed to cook dinner.