Revelation: A Play in One Act

Characters

Antonio – Cheerful, 41 year old single Italian man looking for a long-term relationship. He feels numb when the subject of HIV status arises on his dates. He has been positive for eighteen years, and that fact is beginning to make him feel like an outsider in some social situations. He hates dating for this reason. He is beginning to feel that maybe he should only date other HIV positive men.

Therapist – Antonio’s new therapist. Specializing in providing culturally sensitive services to the gay community where Antonio lives.

Jenell – Antonio’s best friend. 45 year-old Black woman. Honest, bright and “straight to the point” realist. She does not mince words, which is what Antonio loves about her. She is a mother of two, and put herself through graduate school as a single mother.

Bruce – Successful 35 year old man…the hot guy that has been pursuing Antonio for the last three months. Antonio has been avoiding Bruce because he does not want to be rejected by yet another guy because of his HIV status. Bruce is the ultimate guy, the “perfect” guy to marry and bring home to mama. Antonio has been intimidated by the quality of man that Bruce represents.

Scene One

Setting: Therapists Office. Antonio is becoming acquainted with his new therapist. We join the two halfway through the appointment session.

Therapist

So tell me about this difficulty you mentioned about disclosing your health status when on a date. I am not sure I understand what you mean.

Antonio

Sorry ‘bout that. I get a little uncomfortable talking about this. It’s just never a good time to tell your date you’re HIV positive. The responsibility’s always on the guy who’s poz.

Therapist

Why is that?

Antonio

Very few guys ask. It’s a given… if you don’t mention it, its not important, not an issue. It’s an unstated truth – you’re both negative if no one says a word. It’s just a big game, at least until the other guy says “Why didn’t you tell me!”

Therapist

You don’t strike me as the kind of guy who plays games.

Antonio

I don’t like to. I’m bad at it. I can’t lie worth a shit. I’ve spent my life feeling guilty for not playing the game right, for being too honest too soon… for having HIV stamped on my forehead and being judged unworthy before anyone finds out who “I” am.

Therapist

So how do you meet the men in your life?

Antonio

Usually at the bars. I don’t drink but it’s where my friends hang out…the local leather bar. I’ve had a hard time meeting guys online…so tired of reading ads that say “Clean and Disease Free,” with the letters “U B 2”. The funny thing is… I know guys like this and they’re the dirtiest and the most soul-less men I’ve ever met!

(Becomes passionate, increasing his tone, ramping up his anger)

And yet I end-up feeling like the dirty one? The hypocrisy in those ads makes me want to scream!

(Gives a frustrated yell)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Therapist

Do you feel better?

Antonio

(Nods yes and smiles sheepishly)

It just gets to me sometimes. A lot of times. Just need to let it out.

Therapist

Tell me about your past lovers.

Antonio

The dead ones…or the living ones?

Therapist

Let’s start with the dead ones.

Antonio

My teenage lover Steven died from AIDS ‘bout ten years ago. He knew I was poz, but couldn’t tell me ‘bout himself. He was miserably unhappy. He hated being fat; I always thought he was cute. But he got hooked on coke, dropped the pounds, then died.

Therapist

How about the others?

Antonio

Three other ex’s have passed away over the last fifteen years, after we broke up, but it’s really my friends who’ve died that have affected me the most. Gary, Richard, Alex. These guys were amazingly talented men. Teachers and artists who were funny, smart and witty…they were my mentors. They taught me to see the potential in life, to look beyond boundaries and limitations. But now, there’s just a void. An emptiness.

Therapist

Tell me a little more about this.

Antonio

Honestly, it makes me wonder if there is any magic left in the world. I know I’m not a kid anymore. Hell, I’m approaching middle-age; some might say I’m already there. I’ve been positive all my adult life, found out at 23…but now I feel the clock ticking.

(Takes a moment to think)

Why am I here? What makes me so special? My friends held my hand when I got my results, told me not to worry ‘cause I’d never be alone…but now they’re gone…its just not fair.

(Pauses)

What I want to know…is love possible for me, now, at this point in my life? I’m no fool…how long can my body hold out after being positive for over eighteen years? Chances are I’ll end up dying before I can retire. Of course no one knows how long they’ll live. But the reality is…I’m in uncharted territory.

(Tearing up, trying to be funny)

Should I count calories anymore? If I stop working out, who really cares? Hell, I might end up with love-handles and middle-aged spread…but does it matter anymore? My fear of becoming a “jaded, old queen” may end up being a pipe-dream in the end!

(Pause)

Am I getting too caught-up in myself? Am I being selfish? Or am I just having a bad day?

(Wipes his eyes)

I don’t know. That’s what I want to find out…what I need to find out.

Scene Two

Coffeehouse. Antonio meets with Jenell, his best friend, for a little coffee chat.

Jenell

Did he get on the plane after all? Or did you give in again and give him another couple of weeks?

Antonio

You know me better than to ask me that.

Jenell

I know you well enough to ask if pretty boy is still on your couch, or under the sheets with papa bear!

Antonio

Well, we shed a few tears and then left for the airport. I wasn’t a mess like the first time I sent him home. He waited until the last minute to pack, but I expected as much. All was smooth until we arrived at the terminal when he realized he left his wallet at the house. He was so afraid I’d be angry. God, I’m not a nice Daddy. I never wanted him to fear me. And girl, I’ve told you before, I’m much too small and hairless to be a “bear”!

Jenell

He was sweet. We all loved him….even your mom.

Antonio

Ah yes, Mama.

Jenell

Take it from a mother, you’ll always be her little boy, no matter how old you get.

Antonio

She asked me if my hypothesis was correct…that if I get them young enough, I can train them to be just like I want.

Jenell

And…? What did you say?

Antonio

I had to be honest. I can’t bullshit her. I told her I was wrong and she was right. You can’t train an unwilling puppy. And twenty-seven really isn’t a boy. But hell, I just couldn’t support him forever, you know?

Jenell

Do I ever! I told Donny that I won’t support another unemployed black man under my roof, especially when he’s soooo bright all he has to do is apply himself. And the smartass went and got himself a job! I’m thrilled he might just be getting his twenty-four year old self together. I made it clear that as soon as the house is sold, he’s on his own…mama’s not taking anyone with her to the new condo! This is the “Year of Me.” The kid’s got to leave the nest like 40 going north!

Antonio

Your son really has the potential to make something of himself.

(Looks briefly away from Jenell)

Damn fine young man you have there too…

Jenell

(Waving her finger in a “no no no” motion at Antonio)

Uh uh….he’s got a girlfriend. As sweet as he is, honey, I really don’t think he’ll ever…

Antonio

(Breaks Jenell off with a big dramatic gesture, hands in the air)

Oh pleeeezzzeeee! Get real Jenell, you know I have no real interest in guys under…

Jenell

(Breaks Antonio off)

20?

Antonio

You’ve got to be kidding! Maybe I was fooling myself, but I’ve got no more time to play with boys! You know I usually go for men older than me. A little silver, a little experience, a little nastiness. Someone who knows what they’re doing. I’m way over teaching juveniles the right way to…

Jenell

(Breaks Antonio off)

Cook?

Antonio

(Laughs)

Yeah, cook. That’s it. It really does come down to knowing how to put it all together, doesn’t it?

Jenell

Okay dateboy. Who’s next? Knowing you, I’m sure there is something cooking on the back burner?

Antonio

His name’s Bruce. He’s thirtysomething. Handsome, good job, and I don’t have to teach him a thing! We’re having dinner tomorrow. There’s only one thing that bothers me.

Jenell

That he’s not gonna need you to show him how to tie his shoes?

Antonio

(Points a finger at her in an overly dramatic way, squinting his eyes to look like different person mimicking an old Slavic accent)

May your son never leave home!

(Nastily but smiling)

Bitch. No….it’s that he knows nothing about my status. We’ve never talked about it. He’s asked about being a top or bottom, what I get into…what gets me going…but he’s never asked me the 64 thousand dollar question.

Jenell

(With much genuine curiosity)

What do you get into? Were you a top with the boy? Did you dress him up?

Antonio

(Ignoring the last set of questions)

I refuse to have sex with someone until they know my status. I’m just tired of having to explain it, over and over. I’m tired of dealing with the other guy’s drama, helping him process through to the other side. Why do I end-up being the teacher? Why is it my responsibility? Why do I have to be the one to break the mood?

Jenell

(Tilts her head)

Honey! Angry much? You really should get your ass into therapy.

Antonio

Now there’s the smartest thing you’ve said all evening!

Scene Three

The date. A fine Italian restaurant. Antonio dines with Bruce.

Bruce

(Snarls at Antonio, leans a little over the table, looks side to side like a hunting animal in the wild)

You look good enough to eat, my dear!

Antonio

(Shrinks away in his chair while flashing a big smile at Bruce)

Oh my! But Grandpa, what sharp teeth you have!

Bruce

(Stares intently at Antonio and leans in gently toward him)

You know…you can drive a man wild playing hard-to-get like you do.

Antonio

(Looks to the audience and speaks)

Do I tell him now? No, I can’t tell him yet. He hasn’t finished telling me how handsome I am or how much he wants me.

(Antonio looks back at Bruce and the scene resumes)

Bruce

I feel lucky to be with you here tonight. You’re smile disarms me like nothing I’ve felt before.

Antonio

(Antonio quickly glances back at the audience, flashes a smile with teeth showing, then looks back at Bruce)

So tell me, do you always cruise for men at Best Buy? I thought The Home Depot was the place to find a date?

Bruce

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a guy in a baseball cap and sweats buying a laptop.

(Pauses)

I hope you didn’t think I was some kind of stalker. I’ve never done that before.

Antonio

What? Purchase the same five items I had in my basket and chat me up in line telling me how funny it was we’re buying the same things?

(Smiling at Bruce)

No, why would I think you were crazy? I just hope you needed a new laptop and an LCD  TV. Kinda expensive introduction, no?

Bruce

(Holding Antonio’s hand on the table)

I knew that I had to know you, and whatever it took, I had to know who you were. I want to know who you are, in every way.

Antonio

(Looks at the audience with a curious grin then looks back at Bruce and asks sarcastically)

Really?

Bruce

Yes, really!

Antonio

(Looks back to the audience)

They always tell you this, but what they are really saying is “I want to get in your pants and I’ll say anything to get there!” Hell, I’ve said it, but I never really “meant” it.

(Pauses, looks at Bruce then back a the audience)

But could he be sincere? I mean, come on, the bill was $3,300. He spent $3,300 to ask me out. Maybe he means it. Or maybe he’s poz too? Maybe he can handle it? Maybe……

(Looks back at Bruce, action resumes)

Do you really want to know everything about me? I mean, I could be psychotic. I could be addicted to sex, alcohol, relationships. I could even be a closet Republican.

(Pauses, looks at the audience)

No, really, I don’t think I could…

(Looks back at Bruce, action resumes)

You don’t want to know everything about me, do you?

Bruce

(Picks up Antonio’s hand, kisses it and puts it down on the table, still holding it)

Okay, maybe not everything in one night. That’d be overkill. But yeah, I want to know everything. At the end of the night, you’ll leave me wanting, wanting to know you more.

(Looks at Antonio’s hand and squeezes it tighter)

You can’t tell me everything, not in one meal. I mean, there must be more to you than can be shared over one fettuccine special.

(Leans over and kisses Antonio lightly on the lips)

Nothing you can tell me will make me walk away. I’ve waited too long to be here, right now, with you, touching you like this. Nothing.

Antonio

(Looks at the audience)

OK. As much as I want to believe this, I’m not sure I can anymore. All he can see is what he wants to see. He doesn’t really see “me.” He doesn’t know me.

(Pauses briefly)

But now, its too late to say “Oh yeah, there’s something I forgot to mention.” I mean…

Bruce

(Interrupts Antonio by reaching over and pulling Antonio’s face back towards him by his chin)

Were you saying something? You were mumbling.

Scene Four

Therapist’s office. Antonio meets with his therapist.

Antonio

I feel like I’ve been asleep for a long, long time, and I’m just waking up.

Therapist

And what do you see when you look around, now that you are awake?

Antonio

Blankets. Lots of blankets all over the bed. They’re heavy. I just wanna push them off. I don’t care if they get dirty or if the floor’s clean. I just want ‘em off of me.

Therapist

Why did you have so many blankets on the bed?

Antonio

I was cold. At least I thought I was cold.

(Pause)

I was told to prepare for a long winter…that it might last for a very long time. So I just kept buying more blankets. But I could never get warm enough.

Therapist

And what has changed?

Antonio

I think….I realize all these blankets will never give me the warmth I need. I see now, for the first time, I don’t have to have every one I see. I mean, sure they’re cheap and look nice, but they are not the kind I like. Not the kind I think I need.

(Pauses)

It’s funny. I can’t remember the last time I thought about my favorite blanket as a child; the texture, the weave. I took it everywhere I went. It made me feel safe.

(Short pause)

Now it’s just a memory. I can’t believe I forgot about it. I guess it’s been with me, down deep, all these years, keeping me safe.

(Pauses with his eyes closed, smiling, looking upward)

You know, I can almost smell it, still.

Therapist

And how is the weather?

Antonio

(Pauses)

It’s not as cold as I thought it was.

(Pauses again and states more slowly and definitively)

It’s not as cold as I was told it would be.

(Pauses and smiles looking upward)

I can finally see through the clouds.

(Laughs, keeps eyes closed)

I almost feel “warm.”

End.

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