A man bearing the burden of a hard day’s labor upon his shoulders, DEREK REED, slowly makes his way down a dark hallway towards an apartment door. The thought of his warm bed and sleep, sweet glorious sleep, were the only things that kept him on his feet. The weary man inserts his key into the lock of his apartment door. But before he could open the door, a sound from behind the closed door assaults him like a sharp SLAP to the face. He pauses, apprehensively, while listening intently. What he hears is a woman, with a pleasant voice, singing loudly. Derek closes his eyes and lightly bangs his head against the apartment door. “Oh dear God no," he whispers softly. "I can’t do this anymore...I can’t.” The downtrodden man pushes himself away from the closed door while taking deep measured breaths. After a brief interlude, he opens his eyes; his face hardens with determination. Only then does he turn the key and step into the apartment.
The sound of a woman singing loudly continues in the background.
Derek enters a modest apartment. The entrance of the apartment leads to a small living room that opens up into an even smaller kitchen. A door to a bedroom is off to the side. A stunning woman wearing an apron and dressed like Betty homemaker, IRIS ADDLED, is busy cooking in the kitchen while singing at the top of her lungs. She is oblivious to Derek’s presence.
The delectable aroma of roast beef wafts from the tiny kitchen.
Derek kicks off his heavy work boots and hangs his keys on a hook at the entrance. He walks to the center of the living room and clears his throat loudly.
Iris pokes her head out from behind a refrigerator. She greets Derek with a bright smile. “Oh. You’re home, dear. Dinner is almost ready.”
“When did you get in?” Derek asks bluntly.
Iris doesn’t seem to hear Derek’s question. “Roast beef is your favorite, isn’t it?” Iris says happily while continuing to prepare their meal. “I’ve spent all day making all your favorites.”
Derek scowls. “When did you get in?” He asks again.
Iris’s smile vanishes. “If you don’t want roast beef, I could always make something else," she offers; disappointment is etched upon her face.
In response, Derek walks into the bedroom and closes the door behind him.
Iris looks towards the closed bedroom door. “Do you want me to prepare a plate for you?!” She calls out.
“I’m taking a shower!” Derek shouts back.
“All right, dear!” Iris says in a sing-song voice. “I’ll have everything ready for you when you get out.” Iris begins to sing once more as a shower is heard from behind the closed bedroom door.
Derek comes out of a bedroom wearing a ratty t-shirt and beach shorts. He heads straight for the dinner table and takes a seat.
Iris is in a compact kitchen fussing over their meal. When she sees what Derek is wearing, she stops what she is doing and addresses him. “I laid out your favorite pajamas on the bed for you, dear.”
Derek becomes preoccupied with the dinner table. He rocks it back and forth noticing a slight wiggle. While grumbling incoherently to himself, Derek folds a piece of paper and tucks it under a leg, whereby stabilizing the table.
Iris quickly sets an elegant feast upon the dinner table. She reaches into the oven and takes out two carefully prepared plates of food, placing a plate before Derek with a smile. “Bon Appetit.”
Derek sits quietly. His face droops from exhaustion. “We need to talk,” he states plainly.
Iris reaches for the gravy boat. “Wait until you taste the gravy,” she says with a bright smile. Iris pours a healthy potion of gravy onto Derek’s food. “I found a new recipe-“
Derek interrupts Iris in mid-sentence. “So how long are you planning to stay this time?” He asks in earnest. “A day? A week? A month?”
The smile on Iris’s face dissolves into a frown. She goes to the refrigerator and takes out a beer. “Oh la-di-da,” she utters in a sing-song voice. Iris places the beer before Derek then quickly changes the topic. “So how was work today, dear? Did anything interesting happen?”
“Work is work,” Derek declares in a curt tone. “If we can’t even have a serious conversation, then what’s the point of trying?” He stares at the exquisite food before him with a sour expression. “I just lost my appetite.”
Derek grabs his beer and walks into the living room. He plops himself down on a couch and picks up a remote control. A sports channel is heard blaring from a television.
Iris sits alone in the tiny kitchen. With a blank expression, she stares at the beautifully prepared food on the table, considering the hours she spent lovingly preparing the meal. She lifts her chin up. "I'll wrap-up the food for you. When you get hungry later,"
she says in an upbeat voice.
Iris happily loads dishes into a clunky, old dishwasher.
Derek is in the living room drinking a beer and watching sports on a television.
Iris GRUNTS as she struggles to close the dishwasher door.
Derek calls out to her. “We’ve overloaded it again.”
“I don’t think so,” Iris responds. “The door is jammed.”
Derek impatiently gets up from the couch with a HUFF. He quickly goes to the kitchen and practically shoves Iris aside as he takes over the task of closing the dishwasher. The door won’t budge. “Come on!” He shouts between clenched teeth as he puts his weight into it.
“It’s okay,” Iris states nervously. “I’ll just wash the dishes by hand.”
“It still works,” Derek growls as he continues to push on the dishwasher door. “Just because something isn’t new and shiny doesn’t mean you toss it aside like garbage.” His hand slips and BANGS HARD against a kitchen counter. He howls in pain as he gently cradling his injured hand.
“Oh my God,” Iris gasps. “Are you hurt?”
“Of course I’m hurt.” Derek hisses in pain. “Why are you here?!” He roars in frustration.
“This is my home. And you are the love of my life," Iris says as a matter-a-fact. “I need you,” she adds.
Derek throws Iris a venomous look. “You only need me when it suits you.” He turns his back to her. “I can’t even look at you. You disgust me.” Derek continues to cradle his injured hand as he storms into the bedroom.
Iris cries out to Derek as he leaves. “You don’t mean that!”
Derek SLAMS the bedroom door behind him.
“You don’t mean that,” Iris whispers. She buries her face into her hands as she shrinks to floor crying miserably.
Derek is already in bed when Iris enters the bedroom. Without a word, she quietly takes her side of the bed and slips under the covers. Iris giggles mischievously as she affectionately reaches out for Derek.
Derek shrinks away from Iris’s touch. He stares up at the ceiling as he speaks in a calm voice. “We were happy once, weren’t we?”
“Of course we were. How could you even ask me that?” Iris answers softly. “It’s my condition."
“We both know it is more than that,” Derek interjects. “I’m not the person who is able to provide you with all the things that you want,” he continues, “a life of wealth and luxury.” Tears well-up in Derek’s eyes. “But I tried…I tried so hard.”
“I never said I wanted those things, Derek,” Iris quickly replies.
“You didn’t have to,” Derek responds as he turns his back to her.
For hours, Derek and Iris lie awake on a bed. Iris begins to weep softly during the night. Derek hears her but doesn’t offer her one word of comfort.
The next morning, Derek fills a travel mug with coffee before heading towards the door.
Iris sits quietly on a couch in the living room. An air of uncertainty surrounds her. “Aren’t you going to have a bite to eat before you go?” She asks halfheartedly.
Derek ignores Iris as he prepares to leave for work. He reaches the door and grabs the door knob.
Iris quickly blurts out. ”I’m taking my medication, every day, on time. And I’m seeing Doctor Ross twice a week.”
Derek HUFFS impatiently. “We’ve been down this road before.”
“I know,” Iris quickly adds. “But I am doing better, baby. I swear. It will be different this time.”
Derek presses his forehead against the door as though he were experiencing great physical pain.
“I can’t do this without you, Derek,” Iris persists. “Please don’t turn me away. I have no where else to go.”
It takes a long, agonizing moment before Derek is able to give a response. “I’ll see you after work,” he finally states. Derek opens the door and steps outside. The door gently closes behind him.
Iris beams with happiness. “Have a wonderful day, dear!” She calls out after Derek.
Iris leans back on the couch smiling up at the ceiling.
The phone suddenly RINGS.
Iris picks up the phone and answers. “Hello.”
A man’s voice is heard. “Hey babe, it's me.”
Iris’s face hardens into a scowl. “I told you not to call me. It’s over.”
The man on the other end snickers mischievously. “You say that, but I hear something else in your voice.”
“You caught me when I was in a bad place. I was lonely and confused,” Iris retorts.
“Oh I remember how lonely you were. I remember that very clearly,” the man states arrogantly. “Just leave him already. He’s a boring stick-in-the-mud. You said so yourself.”
“I never said that,” Iris exclaimed.
“Sure you did,” the man shoots back.
“I was wrong. Derek is a good man.” Iris argues with a sob.
“How about we discuss it over dinner?” The man suggests in a seductive voice. “Any restaurant you like. Better yet, how about a weekend in Cabo? First class all the way. I know how you love to be pampered. So let me pamper you.”
Iris stares at a picture of her and Derek holding each other at a party. They were so in love. It was one of the happiest days of her life.
“What do you say, babe?” The man asks confidently.
Iris takes a deep breath and summons her courage. “Don’t call me. Don’t contact me. We’re done!”
“Wait--,” the man begins to say before Iris cut him off then SLAMS the phone down on a coffee table.
Iris leans away from the phone, breathing deeply. Tears stream down her face.
“La-di-da,” she sings in a shaky voice.
Suddenly, the phone rings again. Iris GASPS as she stares helplessly at the ringing phone. She quickly grabs the phone and switches it off. But the phone continues to RING incessantly—growing louder and more daunting with each passing moment.
Iris buries her face into her hands, crying miserably, as a phantom phone continues to ring in the background.