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PARTY

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Act One

November 29, 2019

SCENE: Washington DC condo. Two young professionals are packing. 

 

HARPER (thumbing through her closet): How the hell is anyone supposed to get into the spirit of the season when it's 80 degrees outside?

 

ALEX: Oh, come on...it's just Thanksgiving. We'll be back in D.C. before the frost is on the National Christmas tree.

 

HARPER: The secret to wintering in the south is that you have to look like you're wearing winter clothes without the weight of winter clothes. I recommend layers in very light fabrics - a silk shirt, a gauzy scarf.

 

ALEX (carefully folding khakis and button downs into his carryon): Silk shirt, gauzy scarf...got it.

 

HARPER (tossing cutoffs into her suitcase): You're gonna love Poinsettia. And you're going to get to see me in shorts on Thanksgiving morning!

 

********

 

Music plays. Video montage of airplane flying, landing, scenes from New Orleans airport, Harper and Alex exiting airport. 

 

*******

SCENE: Delphine Parish, Louisiana. Harper is driving a car on a rural two-lane highway. Alex is in the passenger seat typing on his phone. Harper picks up her phone and speaks into it. 

 

HARPER: Siri, call Will.

 

An extreme southern belle accent answers. 

 

VOICE: Delahoussaye Associates

 

HARPER: Hi Amy Ray, it's Harper. 

 

AMY RAY (voice): Hey Harper Lee! Are y'all here?

 

Harper side-eyes Alex. He's suppressing a laugh. She points at him as a warning. 

 

HARPER: We're in the car. Are y'all closing the office early this evening?

 

AMY RAY (voice): Will's with a client now. We should be at your mama's within the hour.

 

HARPER: Great! We will see you there! (hangs up phone)

 

ALEX: I'm sorry...Harper Lee? Like the...

 

Alex makes a bird shadow puppet with his hands. 

 

HARPER: The author, yes. Mockingbird. What'd you expect? My mama owns a bookstore for heaven's sake. She named us for southern authors.

 

ALEX: You never told me!

 

HARPER: That's not all. Our cat was named Eudora Welty and Daddy had two labs named Walker and Percy. My brother, Will?

 

ALEX: Don't tell me...

 

HARPER: Tennessee. Williams. Delahoussaye.

 

ALEX (laughs): Well at least she called him Will.

 

HARPER: Oh, no sir! He was Tennessee his whole life til he went off to college. He changed it to Will because he didn't think the Rebels fans at Ole Miss would much care for a boy named for Tennessee.

 

ALEX: That's an SEC football reference, isn't it?

 

HARPER (nodding): Indeed it is. Once he came home and opened his law practice Mama had to give in and start calling him Will. She'd probably stop calling me Harper Lee if I did the same, but there's not much call for a senator's chief of staff in Poinsettia.

 

******

SCENE: Poinsettia town square. Red brick building with white columns supporting a second story balcony. Sign reads "Sound & Fury Books"

 

MENETRE (running out front door): Harper Lee! Get over here and hug my neck!

 

HARPER (running toward her mother): Mama!

 

Alex stands by the car, looking unaccustomed to such displays of emotion from Harper. Or anyone. 

 

HARPER (waving Alex over): Mama, this is Alex.

 

ALEX (extending his hand): Ms. Delahoussaye.

 

As if. 

 

MENETRE (pulling him into an embrace): Son, that ain't how we say hello down here. 

 

HARPER (mouthing to Alex): Sorry.  

 

MENETRE: Well come on inside. I'm just about to close up the shop.

 

HARPER: Alex, can you grab the bags? 

 

Harper and her mom walk toward the entrance and into the book store. 

 

MENETRE (waving to a neighbor on the square): Did I tell you? Miss Melba sold her diner. 

 

HARPER: What? No! To who??

 

MENETRE: Well she was ready to close it down altogether but at the last minute Joe Bell Lattimore gave his notice at the school and bought the business from her. 

 

HARPER: I can't imagine town without Miss Melba's cheese grits. Who's the new principal then? 

 

MENETRE: Don't know, but I know who the new football coach is: Beau Bergeron. 

 

HARPER: Oh, my. Well if that isn't his life's dream - to live out his days in the Panther locker room. 

 

MENETRE: Harper Lee, I won't hear an unkind word about that young man. He was so helpful to me around the shop and the house after your daddy died. I think he was sweet on you back then. 

 

HARPER: Oh mama, Beau Bergeron didn't know I was alive in high school. 

 

MENETRE: Well why would he? You never participated in anything - always had your nose in a book. 

 

HARPER (gestures around the book store): And who's fault was that??!

 

Enter Alex, carrying bags, along with Will and Amy Ray

 

ALEX: Look who I ran into outside.They said they're related to you. 

 

HARPER: Will!

 

WILL: Hey, Sissy. 

 

They hug. 

 

HARPER: Mama was just getting me up to speed on the news around here. 

 

Will side-eyes Menetre, than looks back at Harper. 

 

WILL: Oh, yeah? What news is that? 

 

HARPER: That Mr. Lattimore bought Miss Melba's place; Beau Bergeron is coaching the panthers. 

 

WILL: Ahh, yes...that news. Always something big happening in Poinsettia. 

 

AMY RAY (to Alex): Beau played for the panthers back when Harper was in high school. 

 

ALEX (to Amy Ray): Ex-boyfriend? 

 

AMY RAY: Oh no. Miss Menetre does adore him though. 

 

WILL: How long are y'all staying then? 

 

HARPER: We leave out Sunday. 

 

WILL: Well that's not much time to...catch up.  

 

HARPER (laughs): I think I just got all the news there is from Delphine Parish! 

 

Will and Amy Ray exchange worried glances. 

 

AMY RAY (to Harper): Well maybe Friday we can do some shopping around town? I mean, I realize y'all probably have all the best department stores in Washington but you know you can't beat the quality of handmade southern goods! 

 

HARPER: Ya know what, Amy Ray? I think that's a great idea. Let's bring a little southern charm to our nation's capitol this Christmas! 

 

Exeunt up the stairs to the home above. Fade to black.

 

 

 

 

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