Reina: A One-Act Play

By Joe Bulvid

(In Order of Appearance)
Jeff:   A young male, dressed in business casual
Quinn:   A young male, dressed in business casual
Reina:    A mysterious young female dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and a leather jacket

A bar in New York City. There are numerous barstools. It is 7:30 pm in July.

QUINN and JEFF sit at barstools
C. REINA sits at a barstool
RC. BARTENDER works behind the bar.

JEFF: Stay for one more? Come on, Quinn!

QUINN: Jeff, you’re killing me. Pamela’s gonna think I got mugged in the subway. And I don’t want to text her because then it becomes a thing.
(mimics his wife)
“You really should have told me about going out with Jeff. I could have gone to the 7pm cycle class or had some me time with my new vibrator.” If I just go home, she may be pissed, but it’s like she doesn’t think about what she could have done.

JEFF: How often am I in NY these days? Twice a year? Remember the last time we watched the All-Star game in a bar? Five or six years ago?

QUINN: (smiles as he remembers) You told that guy that kept whining about turning off the game and putting on America’s Got Talent, that if he didn’t shut up, you’d show him your talent for stuffing olives up his nose. And then he tries to save face as he leaves, so he knocks your drink over. Except it wasn’t your drink.

JEFF: It was the drink of the bartender’s girlfriend. Things went downhill for him pretty fast. Hey, does Pamela ever let you use the vibrator on her?

QUINN: OK you win. One more drink and that’s it. My alcohol capacity is not what it was when we were in college. You know what I’m referring to.

(JEFF signals BARTENDER for two beers)

JEFF: The Phillies game?

QUINN: We had so many beers that I read in the papers the next day that the Pirates pulled their team off the field because some asshole threw a battery. And I had zero recollection of that! They threatened to not even play the second game.

Jeff: (feigning surprise) It was a doubleheader?

(The bartender brings two beers)

QUINN: (as he massages his right temple) Hey, what does a headache feel like?

JEFF: What do you mean? Your head has an ache. It’s called pain. What’s your next question, “How do I pee”?  Maybe you have a brain tumor.

QUINN: I think I’m the only person who never had a headache in my life. I really don’t know what it feels like.
(rubbing his head with both hands)
Shit, what is this?

JEFF: You were never the guy who made phony excuses to leave.

QUINN: Jeff, I said I’d stay for one more drink. I just have this weird feeling. It’s like there’s an ice pick that’s gone through my skull and it’s just sitting there. It’s maybe a three on a scale of ten, but it doesn’t stop.
(feeling his temple)
Wait. It stopped. Just like that. Oh, man, I have a new sympathy for people who get migranes.
(smiles as he takes a gulp of his beer)
They say you don’t remember pain. But why do I have this all-over relief that it stopped?

JEFF: This is only your third beer. That can’t be it.

QUINN: Maybe I pinched a nerve. You know …. how sudden it was …. and then it just goes away? Could that be it?

JEFF: What am I, your neurologist?
(getting off the barstool)
Gotta go take a leak.

(JEFF exits LW, REINA  gets off her barstool comes over and sits on the one that JEFF vacated. She stares at QUINN who is engrossed in his beer, and doesn’t notice her)

JEFF: (suddenly notices REINA with a start, spilling his beer) Oh my God! I looked up, thinking it was my friend. And you’re not him. No, not even close. Who are you?
(REINA continued to stare at QUINN, as if studying an inanimate object)
(JEFF puts his right hand to the back of his head, rubbing it) Oh no. It came back.
(to REINA as he continues rubbing his head, not looking at her)I’m sorry. I keep getting this weird headache and I don’t know what to do. Look,  I …. I’m sorry. This is really awkward, but I don’t know if I should get another beer or call an ambulance. Please …

(REINA gets off the barstool)

REINA: (lazily runs her right hand from his shoulder to his neck and the back of his head) It won’t get better.
(walking back to her barstool, she says with her back towards QUINN)
Unless you ask very nicely.

(JEFF comes back to his barstool)

JEFF: (seeing the spilled beer and QUINN rubbing his head) I leave for two minutes and you fall apart! Wasting a full beer and what, that head thing is back? Are you past your bedtime?
(JEFF signals for a beer for QUINN)
(speaking to himself) My friend has early stage dementia. He spilled his beer. Sorry.

QUINN: (speaking in an exagerated whisper) Jeff, this is serious. I honestly never felt like this before and it’s scary. And that whacked out girl!

JEFF: (looking down the bar at REINA) That girl behind you? What about her?
(looking at REINA) She looks kind of crazy/sexy. Not like a Manson girl. More like Selena Gomez after doing strong weed. Hey, was she hitting on you?

QUINN: (puts his left hand on his forehead) No! I don’t know! No!
(closing his eyes in anguish) Aaaaaaah!
(tries to take deep breaths and control his breathing) OK. OK. Now it’s a one. But for like two seconds it was a seven. Oh my god. I’m really scared

(JEFF puts his hand on QUINN’S shoulder)

JEFF: Now, you’ve got my attention. I don’t know what’s going on, but a few seconds ago I saw that you were really in pain. It must be a pinched nerve. They say that can cause monster hurting. Let’s figure out …

QUINN: (cutting JEFF off) Shut up! You’re not gonna believe this. I don’t believe this!
(looks at JEFF)
When I said the pain was a seven? It was because a seven somehow appeared in my mind. And when the pain went down to a one, it was the same thing. A one was in my mind. I don’t know if I actually saw the numbers or I just knew.

(JEFF is looking at REINA)

JEFF: Hey, I think Selena is looking at you.

(QUINN slowly turns around. REINA is looking directly at him with a sly smile)

QUINN: This can’t be happening. Does she actually know about my headaches? Wait, she said something. It was important. Something like, “It won’t stop unless you ask nicely.”

JEFF: You lost me. Ask who? What does that mean?

QUINN: I don’t know why, but I feel it. I need to go talk to her. Whoa!
(feeling the back of his head) I think the pain just went away.

JEFF: Either we somehow entered The Twilight Zone or this is the most bizarre pick-up I’ve ever seen. You do remember that you’re married?

QUINN: Jeff, this has nothing to do with Pamela. I can’t explain it, but I feel compelled to talk to her.

JEFF: Do you want me to come with you?

QUINN: No, this isn’t your problem. It’s mine.

(QUINN gets off his barstool and walks over to REINA. He stands before her as she sits, looking at him)

REINA: Tell Jeff to leave.
(QUINN stares at REINA, trying to make sense of everything)
(With impatient anger) Do it now!

(QUINN walks back to JEFF and stands before him)

QUINN: Don’t ask me anything, but you have to leave. Please, I can’t explain. Even if I wanted to. This is real!

JEFF: Hold on. Don’t get all freaked out because some stoned-out girl …

QUINN: (speaks over JEFF) She knew your name! “Tell Jeff to leave.” Please, just go. There’s nothing you can do. I have no idea where this is going, but I feel like I fell off a cliff and I’m in free fall.

JEFF: I know your mind can play tricks sometimes, but I feel like I need to do more than just leave. Should I wait outside? Should I go to the cops?

QUINN: I need you to leave. Now. Ahhh!
(suddenly grabs the back of his head) A five! If you don’t leave right now, I’ll call Chris and tell her about your bachelor party weekend. Get the hell out of here! Please!

JEFF: Alright. I’m leaving. Will you call me after? This is starting to freak me out. I mean …. threatening me …. you gotta be kidding.

(JEFF reluctantly leaves the bar LW, looking back at QUINN. QUINN turns to look at REINA and is shocked to see that she is standing next to him. REINA holds the back of QUINN’S head and pulls him toward her, kissing him.)

REINA: (says, annoyed) Do it like it’s the last time you’ll ever kiss a woman.
(JEFF gently wraps both hands around REINA’S lower back and kisses with a guarded passion)
(says, pleasantly) Sit down.

(QUINN sits in the barstool formerly occupied by JEFF. REINA sits where JEFF had been sitting.)

Now we can ….
(casually motions with both hands)

QUINN: Chat? Are you out of your mind?
(stands up, gripping his head) No, no, please! Last time it felt like the ice pick was turning deep in my skull. This was worse. (QUINN sits down)
(breathing deeply)
Thank God, it only lasted a second!

REINA: Thank ….. God?

(QUINN looks at REINA as if an understanding is beginning to take shape)

QUINN: I meant ….. I’m sorry. Thank … you. Thank you.

REINA: (smiling) I’d like a tequila.

(QUINN urgently signals the bartender and fumbles with his wallet, placing several bills on the bar)

REINA: (says as an innocent afterthought) Oh, let me have your phone.

(QUINN looks at REINA for a beat, then quickly hands her his cell. She scrolls through it for a minute, types something and then places it in her jacket pocket)

REINA: That would have been such a distraction. So, tell me what you’re thinking.
(holds up the index finger of her right hand)
Wait. When you speak. Speak from your …. speak with total, absolute honesty. I don’t have patience for anything but the truth.

QUINN: You expect me to pour my heart out …
(suddenly grabs his head, then breathes deeply as the pain subsides)

REINA: Look at me! I’m only going to say this once. Think carefully before you speak. When you open your mouth, I want only the most sincere truths. I’m not going to say that again. Do not test me!

(QUINN nods his head affirmatively)

QUINN: I’m scared as hell. Maybe more afraid than I’ve ever been. I told Jeff I felt that I was in free-fall off a cliff.

REINA: (considering QUINN’S words) Continue.

QUINN: There’s something else. It’s not fear. I don’t know.
(suddenly holds his right hand up towards REINA)
Please. That was the truth. I’m trying to formulate the feeling. I really am.
(with sad eyes and a slight facial smile)
Resigned. I’m resigned to this. This is all out of control. No, not out of control. Out of my control. I’m free-falling and you decide if and when I crash.

REINA: (smiling, as she takes a sip of her drink) Hmmm. Out of your control and into mine. I like that. What else are you feeling? (giggles) Besides pain.

QUINN: Acceptance. That just came to me, but I know it’s truer than anything I’ve ever said. Maybe one of the few pure, honest things I’ve ever said.
(Looks deeply at REINA)
I have a wife.

REINA: (dismisses QUINN’S statement with a wave of her right hand) Oh, don’t worry. Pamela won’t be looking for you anymore.

(REINA extends both hands out. QUINN looks at her hands and gently holds them. QUINN slowly shakes his head, giving in to whatever is happening.)

QUINN: Reina.

Lights, fading.


Joe Bulvid has authored numerous short plays that have been performed in New York City and in London. Reina was selected for Best of 2018 Short Play Celebration at Manhattan Repertory Theatre, New York City. He is considering opportunities for a full-length play, Blue Moon. He is an adjunct professor at New York University (NYU), teaching graduate students about Mergers & Acquisitions and is a public speaker on the subject.