‘Slow Dance on the Killing Ground’ (Rosie)

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‘Slow Dance on the Killing Ground’ by William Hanley

From: Play

Type: Dramatic

Character: Rose, a college student who is running from something.

Gender: Female

Age Range: Late Teens | 20's

Summary: The curtain rises on a poor, dusty shop with its dirty window obscuring the dark hostile night. A storekeeper is taking inventory. The door is flung open, letting in a lithe young black man. In this dance for two, the characters make hesitant approaches, circle, feint, threaten each other with gun & ice pick but scarcely make contact. The young man is obviously a hunted man. The storekeeper a non-Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, is close-mouthed, suspicious, anxious to avoid self-involvement. The third dancer is Rosie, an 18-year old from Riverdale, who as wandered into the shop after losing her way with no illusions about her homeliness or about the encounter that has led to her troubles. The two men react to her with a sensitivity and concern that seem to diminish the furies within them. But not for long. Finally the German is driven to revealing the truth about himself as the young man, faces his inexorable fate out there on the killing ground.

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Rosie: If you knew me better, you’d see that this is exactly the kind of thing that’s likely to happen to me. Getting knocked up, I mean. The point is it was my first time, I was a virgin before that. Wouldn’t you know it, I’d get caught? Aside from everything else, I’m not lucky, either. You see, if I was lucky, Harold and I could’ve succumbed to our silly little passion and that would’ve been that, the end of it. And New Rochelle, of all places. At least if it’d been in some nice apartment in the Village, say, with the sound coming through the window of traffic and people, the breeze blowing the curtain over the bed, like in the movies. But no. I lost my virginity in the attic of an old house in New Rochelle. Harold’s grandmother’s house. On a rainy day in spring on the floor of the attic in his grandmothers house, listening to the rain on the roof, breathing the dust of old things…And what comes next but his grandmother who was supposed to be in the city for the day. But instead, she’s suddenly standing there, screaming: “Stop that! Stop that this instant!” Needless to say, it was out of the question. Stopping. At that particular moment. I mean, sex is like a flight over the sea, one reaches the point of no return…I guess it sounds funny now, but you know, at the time…it was pretty rotten. Sordid, I mean…it wasn’t at all the way it’s supposed to be. And Harold, of all people. A girl finds herself in this predicament, this condition, she’d at least like to think the cause of it was some clever, handsome guy with charm and experience, just returned from spending a year in Rome, say, on a Guggenheim fellowship. But Harold. Harold is six foot two, about a hundred and twenty five pounds, tops, and an Economics major at CCNY…That’s about the best I’ll ever be able to do, I know it. Ever since I found out I was pregnant I’ve been walking around with a face down to here and my mother kept saying, “What’s the matter with you, anyway? I just don’t know what’s gotten into you lately.” So, finally, I told her: a kid named Harold, as a matter of fact.

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