Magazine | December 18, 2017, Issue

Unwanted Advances

A play in six acts


The curtain rises on the bedroom of Roy and Kayla Moore. It is dark. Alabama moonlight streams in through the window. Roy Moore (seventies, white hair) and his wife Kayla (fifties, still youthful) sleep soundly.

A rustle is heard at the window. The breeze softly blows the large French windows open, and the curtains flutter in the moonlight.

The Ghost of Ted Kennedy (seventies, heavyset) floats in, and for a moment it seems to hover next to the bed, on Roy’s side. [Staging note: For adult repertory productions, a sturdy and dependable wire-and-harness rigging can be used for the flotation effect.]

The Ghost floats for a bit, then gradually settles.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: Roy? Roy? Are you awake?

Roy groggily wakens, sees the Ghost of Ted Kennedy, and starts.

Roy Moore: Whaaaa? Who’s there? I have a gun!

Roy Moore gropes around the bedside table for his gun. The Ghost of Ted Kennedy raises a ghostly hand, which clutches an empty highball glass. He rattles the ice cubes in the glass.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: Be still, Roy! You are in no danger! I come in friendship. I am making many visitations tonight.

Roy turns to his sleeping wife.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: It’s okay, Roy. Only you can hear me. You can hear me and you can hear this.

The Ghost rattles his glass again.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: So, what? You’re not going to offer me a little something?

Roy Moore: Sorry, Senator Kennedy. This is a dry county.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: Oh, right. I forgot. Alabama. What is it with you people? Forget it. I’ll get a little pop on my next stop. Charlie Rose is well stocked. This I know for a fact. Look, I’m here to tell you that despite our political differences, I’m on your side.

Roy Moore: I’m sorry. I think I must be having a nightmare.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: What’s the problem? Yes, yes — you’re a conservative and I’m a — I was a — liberal. But on the big issues, on the important stuff, let’s face it. Peas in a pod.

Roy Moore: Get away, demon!

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: Seriously? Hey, I’m the first to admit I had it considerably easier. Skated on a ton of stuff. Just a ton. I mean, back in the day we’d all get together and, well, some of the gals from the Senate steno pool were stacked and packed, know what I mean? Walking around Dirksen and looked like two puppies in a sack, get me? Whoo boy. Sure you don’t have a little something? Gin? Vodka?

Roy Moore: (trembling) What do you want from me, otherworldly monster?

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: And then sometimes we’d have those high-school groups coming through and . . . well, you don’t want to hear this.

A pause.

Roy Moore: I may have some cooking wine downstairs. Go on with your story.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: Look, you’re about to find out just how totally fantastic it is to be a United States senator. Not as great as it was a few years ago, gotta admit. But what I want you to remember is, it only works if you reach across the aisle. Cooperation. Bipartisanship. Comity. These are the things that make the Senate work. Do you understand me?

Roy Moore: So the high-school groups, are they like guided tours and chaperoned deals?

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: Take your future colleague, for instance. Al Franken. Good man. Is he a liberal? Sure. But does that mean the two of you can’t find common ground? Of course not. What I learned over the years was that a lot of great legislation could get worked out over lunch. Or a waitress. Tell me you understand.

Roy Moore: The people of Alabama are sending me to Washington to shake things up. To change the way business is done. Not to compromise with liberals and progressives.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: The people of Alabama, with all due respect, don’t know how lonely a man can get. It’s a pressure cooker, my friend. You know that. I know that. Al Franken knows that. I’m just saying that when you get there, you’ll discover that you have lots and lots in common with your fellow senators. They understand you.

Roy Moore: It will be nice to be in a place where people get me. Where they don’t judge me.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: Yes. Yes. See? Already you’re getting it.

Roy Moore: And you really think I’m going to win? I’m going to be a senator? With all of the perks and privileges and –

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: Looks like it. But that’s why I’m making a lot of visits tonight. Franken’s next.

Roy Moore: Tell him I said hey. And . . .

A pause. Roy Moore hesitates.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: And?

Roy Moore: And that I’m looking forward to working with him.

Ghost of Ted Kennedy: There ya go.

The ghost hovers off through the open window.

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