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A MELLANZANA ON TONY'S ROOF
an homage to Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

by Joseph Zeccola


CHARACTERS
PAULIE A Middle-aged Italian-American
MARIE A Middle-aged Italian American
BIG JOEY An Old, Fat Italian American

SETTING
Marie and Joey's apartment in the Bronx.

GLOSSARY
Mellanzana (Pronounced and spelled Moo-lin-yan in the script) means eggplant. The word can, and unfortunately is, often used to describe African-American persons. Bambini al Maledetto means roughly--children of the damned.

[Lights up on MARIE, who enters, carrying a wrapped box of pastries. The refrigerator door is open, a figure can be seen crouching inside. She looks back out the door as she enters.]

MARIE: [To herself] Bambini al maledetto! [Yelling outside] Ya friggin monsters, get away from me! Get away!

[She slams the door shut.]

PAULIE!

PAULIE: [Speaking with food in his mouth] WHAT?

MARIE: You see that? Ha? Friggin kids. I swear I'm gonna kill Loraine. She was at the store. Meanwhile her kids--little friggin nightmare children that they are--go running around, breaking open fire hydrants, torturing cats ... and throwing tomatoes at me--I swear Paulie, those kids are from the devil.

PAULIE: Who hit you with a tomato?

MARIE: Will you get your head out a the friggin fridge?!

[PAULIE gets up and closes the door, a canoli is stuffed in his mouth. He is wearing only a tank-top tee shirt. We can see that he has a broken leg and, although he is not a large man his stomach is bulging abnormally--he seems too large for his clothes. He hobbles toward his chair.]

MARIE: You like that canoli? Does it taste good?

PAULIE: You don't look like you got hit with a tomato.

MARIE: They missed. So you like that canoli?

PAULIE: It's alright.

MARIE: So you don't like it.

PAULIE: Its ALLRIGHT!

MARIE: I mean if it isn't, I got this whole box here!

[She throws down the box of pastries.]

If that's no good paulie, I got news for you. You're friggin outta luck. There ain't no more bakers left in the Bronx! You hear me Paulie! There ain't one friggin baker left in this whole friggin borough. You tried every single canoli in the area, and I ain't going out no more!

PAULIE: That's fine.

MARIE: You shoulda seen Lorraine when I was down Arthur Avenue. Her and her friend--you know the one with the chest as big as Ethiopia--they was laughing.

PAULIE: Why was they laughing?

MARIE: You don't know? Oh wait, let me remember--it was something about being the husband of a crazy friggin lunatic.

PAULIE: Oh.

MARIE: You figure it out now, Paulie? So I says, "At least my husband doesn't have nose hairs growing down to his ankles!"

PAULIE: That's a good one, baby.

MARIE: Yeah. Ya like that. ... Ya like that. ... It wasn't as good as her response, however.

PAULIE: What?

MARIE: It seems you was wrong. Someone saw you.

PAULIE: Saw me? When?

MARIE: Do I look friggin stupid to you, Paulie? Quit breaking my chops, will ya?

PAULIE: So. Someone saw me.

MARIE: So, that someone happened to be Gregory. You know that kid goes to school at fordham? The one with the mouth as big as my sister's Buick.

PAULIE: Oh.

MARIE: Yeah, "Oh." ... So you could imagine my surprise when Lorriane said, "At least my husband didn't break his leg running out in the rain at three in the morning to the only twenty-four hour bakery in friggin New York city to get a friggin box a canoli."

[Silence.]

So you're quiet now, are ya.

[Pause.]

This has got to stop, Paulie.

PAULIE: What?

MARIE: It's got to stop.

PAULIE: WHAT?!

MARIE: You got a fixation, Paulie. One a them "oral fixations". Ever since--

PAULIE: You know what the problem in the world today is?

MARIE: Paulie...

PAULIE: Do you know?

MARIE: What. Paulie?!

PAULIE: Propensity.

[Silence.]

MARIE: Did you watch Jeopardy today, Paulie?

PAULIE: What?

MARIE: Did you watch Jeopardy?

PAULIE: You got propensities, MARIE.

MARIE: Now it's the plural.

PAULIE: Yes you do. You got propensities.

MARIE: Well, you know what, Paulie? I don't know what that means. I have no friggin idea what the hell you're talking about.

PAULIE: I'm talking about Propensity, Marie.

MARIE: I don't know what that means!

[Pause.]

What does that mean, Paulie?

PAULIE: It means you keep doin things Marie. Them friggin kids, they keep throwin tomatoes at you, and you, you keep naggin me about my eatin. You got a propensity ta--

MARIE: And what do you do? You keep eatin friggin canoli, left and right you keep eatin. You're trying so hard to find a replacement for your motha's--

PAULIE: Enough! Don't you speak of my mother! Not a word, you hear me! You speak ill a my mother and I'll wrap you in the head!

MARIE: Ya never hit me in your life, Paulie! Who you kidding? And if you did it'd be the most attention you paid me in a month. You don't care no more.

PAULIE: I don't want to hear this.

MARIE: You're gonna hear this! Paulie you don't touch me no more. You don't love me no more. When we made love? Two months ago? Three? Ever since--

PAULIE: Aaaah!

MARIE: Paulie, I feel like that moo-lin-yan caught up on Tony's roof.

PAULIE: What the hell you talkin about? The one Tony wrapped in the head with the crowbar?

MARIE: I feel just like him.

PAULIE: What the fuck are you talkin about, Marie? That guy was breakin into their house. He was a stranger!

MARIE: I feel like a stranger! Everyday I walk in here.

PAULIE: What is that one a them metaphor things? What the hell does that mean?

MARIE: It means Paulie, all you do is eat. All day long. When are you and I gonna be married again?

PAULIE: I stop eatin when I'm full. I ain't full.

[Pause.]

What? You wanna go in the bedroom and make nice. Let's go.

MARIE: We can't no more, Paulie. You'd friggin crush me.

PAULIE: And what is that supposed to--

MARIE: That means all you do is eat. All day long. Your gettin so big, Paulie, I could park my car between your legs.

PAULIE: What do you want, one a them new-age, woman-on-top relationships? You ain't gonna get it.

MARIE: I want you to stop friggin eating. I want you to lose some a that fat friggin stomach a yours. Your mother, she's--

PAULIE: I don't wanna hear it.

MARIE: You got a fixation, Paulie, an oral--

PAULIE: An you got a propensity to piss me off!

[There's a loud bang at the door.]

MARIE: It's big Joey. He thinks he's dyin again.

PAULIE: Oh christ. Now he's gonna break my balls for a half-hour with soul-saving bullshit. I can't take this. Go down to the corner and get me a sandwich will ya?

MARIE: More food?

[There is another bang at the door.]

PAULIE: Just go, will ya?

MARIE: I'm goin!

[Marie exits, opening the door and BIG JOEY, a very large man, enters as she leaves.]

BIG JOEY: How ya doin, Paul?

PAULIE: Fine, Joe. Will ya grab me them cannoli?

[BIG JOEY comes over to PAULIE'S chair, bringing with him the cannoli. Paulie starts to eat ravenously.]

BIG JOEY: How's it hanging?

PAULIE: My wife's bustin my ass--says everyone’s teasin her on-a count a me fallin last week, the friggin neighbor's kids’re bustin her ass by throwin stuff at her, she won't get me friggin food without complainin and I still can't find a good cannoli. But you know me, I can't complain.

BIG JOEY: Doctor says I got six months, Paulie.

PAULIE: You know that aint true, Joe--

BIG JOEY: It is true, it is. Now listen to me, Paulie, it's not too late for you. You can still change your ways--

PAULIE: You know Joey, you got a propensity to break my balls about this stuff.

BIG JOEY: And you got a propensity to throw food down your throat like there's no tommorow. Your ass's getting bigger by the minute! [Short pause.] Yeah I was watching Jeopardy today, too. [Pause] Your wife's right, kid. You got an oral fixation.

PAULIE: What the fuck does that mean?

BIG JOEY: It means you miss your motha, kid. And you eat like a friggin cow outta guilt!

PAULIE: I don't wanna hear no more about my mother! May she rest in peace. She was a good woman!

BIG JOEY: This is about you kid! You were addicted to her god-damn cooking. Now you're searching the earth for the right friggin cannoli.

PAULIE: Her cannoli was one of a kind, you hear me! It's irreplaceable.

BIG JOEY: I know. So why don't you stop eatin so much?

PAULIE: There might be one that's close, though. I gotta find it.

BIG JOEY: No. You gotta stop. Your motha's dead kid, God love her. I wouldn't stop smoking after my wife died, now look at me. My lungs are as black as Denzel Washington. I'm a dead man--

PAULIE: You’re not--

BIG JOEY: I'M DEAD! That's it. I'm dead. [Pause] But you're still alive, kid. Stop eatin, you fat bastard. You're gonna look like me if you don't.

[MARIE enters abruptly.]

MARIE: Could you excuse us, Joe.

BIG JOEY: Sure. [Pause] You listen to me, kid.

[PAULIE grumbles as JOEY exits.]

MARIE: It's been two months since your mother died.

[No response.]

And you know who I haven't seen in two months?

[No response.]

Millie. She was in florida since the funeral. Visiting her grandkids. I just bumped into her down on the corner.

PAULIE: You get me that sandwich.

MARIE: No I didn't.

PAULIE: Marie! Go get me a fuckin sandwich!

MARIE: No.

PAULIE: MARIE! I said--

MARIE: I ain't getting you no more sandwiches and no more cannoli, you hear me! You got a propensity not to listen, so you better be hearing me!

PAULIE: I want a--

MARIE: You know what your gonna get! Do you know? [Pause] Your mother’s cannoli.

PAULIE: What does that mean, Marie?

MARIE: It means I'm making you cannoli, myself.

PAULIE: How could you...?

MARIE: Millie asked your mother for the recipe last year.

PAULIE: She did?

MARIE: She did.

PAULIE: You're kidding? [Pause] It still won't be right. It won't.

MARIE: We're gonna find out. We are. And when we're done eating. You're gonna lay down on that bed and we're gonna have a new-age relationship for at least fifteen minutes do you hear me? Do you!

[No response.]

And them I'm going to make you some more cannoli. And they're gonna taste just like your mother's.

PAULIE: Wouldn't it be funny is that was the truth.


* * *


Copyright © 1994 by Joseph Zeccola

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that A Mellanzana on Tony's Roof is subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional and amateur stage performing, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

Inquiries concerning all rights should be addressed to the author at Rights@JosephZeccola.com

 

 



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