(We open at a small cafe in a garden behind a charming Victorian-era building. Vivanne is already sitting there, sipping iced tea and reading the newspaper.)

*Chuck enters the cafe carrying a battered-but-loved briefcase. He spots Vivianne and walks over to her table.*

Chuck: *Small smile* Hi, Vivianne. Sorry I'm late. The guys were playing keep-away with my briefcase.

Vivianne: Were they really that desperate to read the contents?

Chuck: No, they don't really care about the contents.

Vivianne: Have you ever shown your stories to them?

Chuck: Only my brother Slip.

Vivianne: What did he think of them?

Chuck: He liked them, said I should keep trying to sell them. Iím just...I'm too scared.

Vivianne: He's right. You should keep trying to sell them.

Chuck: I'll try. *sits across from her at the table* Thanks for inviting me. I'm really hoping to get some ideas.

Vivianne: I'm glad to help. I enjoy encouraging new talent at the publisher's. I don't often get to help young men.

Chuck: I just...I guess I've hit a road block. That's why I'd like to make a try at romance...

Vivianne: Writer's block?

Chuck: I've been trying to not use that term to give myself some hope.

Vivianne: Well, what are you interested in? It's often easier to write what you love.

Chuck: *His cheeks turn pink* Well, I sorta...daydream about spending time with a nice girl...um, *waves a hand* you know, just being there for each other and enjoying each other's company?

Vivianne: That's so sweet. Do you prefer historical romances, or ones set in the here and now?

Chuck: *Shrugs* I never really considered one way or the other. I'm open to both ideas.

Vivianne: Are you interested in any aspects of history? Any specific time periods?

Chuck: I, uh...wasn't very good at history in school...

Vivianne: Ahh. Perhaps you should stick to romances set in the here and now, then, unless you'd like to do some research.

Chuck: Maybe I should...I, uh, tried a little scene last night... *takes a typed sheet of paper from his briefcase and hands it over*

Vivianne: Let's see. (Reads) Well, you do describe the cabin setting very well. Did you spend a lot of summers in a cabin?

Chuck: Fishing with Slip during summer vacation.

Vivianne: Ahh. (Grins) You describe the older brother butting in rather well, too. That must be your Slip.

Chuck: Yeah.

Vivianne: The girl...you describe her well, too. A former girlfriend?

Chuck: *Shakes his head* Not mine...

Vivianne: (Sighs and hands him the paper) Not bad. It's not exactly Jane Austen, but it's rather sweet. Based after real-life?

Chuck: No, it didn't really happen.

Vivianne: But you rather wish it did. I can see it in your face.

Chuck: *Faintly* Yes...

Vivianne: (Nods) You show some promise...but it's obvious you haven't had much experience with romance.

Chuck: Obvious?

Vivianne: You have a very interesting use of detail, though. I could practically hear the older brother's New York accent and his odd vocabulary.

Chuck: That's probably what I've had the most experience with.

Vivianne: You ought to write about growing up in New York.

Chuck: But I don't find it very interesting.

Vivianne: Well, what are you passionate about?

Chuck: I don't know...

Vivianne: I've always enjoyed reading Jane Austen and learning about the era she lived in. It was so elegant and refined! That might not be for you, though.

Vivianne: What was your favorite subject in school? :

Chuck: Math.

Vivianne: Do you have any other hobbies? Do you like to cook? Travel? Collect something?

Chuck: Our group hobby is getting into and out of trouble.

Vivianne: What sort of trouble?

Chuck: You name it, we've fought it...especially gangsters.

Vivianne: Gangsters! How could a nice young man like you be involved with gangsters?

Chuck: Slip.

Vivianne: Your brother? Don't tell me he's a gangster.

Chuck: No, he isn't. He just had a big mouth.

Vivianne: Said a few things he shouldn't have to people he shouldn't have said them to?

Chuck: That's one reason.

Vivianne: What's another?

Chuck: Wrong place, wrong time.

Vivianne: Has a habit of going where he shouldn't, too.

Chuck: Yeah, and we follow.

Vivianne: Do you have any hobbies outside of the group?

Chuck: I help out at a local church. I'm not very interesting.

Vivianne: On the contrary. I think helping out at a local church is very interesting. What do you do there?

Chuck: I organize the material for the kids' class, and assorted other things. We all owe so much to Father O'Hanlon, I thought it the best way to return the favor.

Vivianne: That's wonderful, and very sweet of you. I'm sure you hear lots of interesting stories at the church.

Chuck: Sometimes.

Vivianne: Perhaps you could try writing those down. There's lots of local religious and self-help magazines and books that publish uplifting stories about people doing good and helping out.

Chuck: Yeah, I could do that.

Vivianne: Talk to your Father O'Hanlon, too. I'll bet he has lots of great stories you might be able to use.

Chuck: I will.

Vivianne: Maybe you could write down some of your friends' adventures, too. Who knows? Maybe some movie studio would want to buy a series of comic adventures about a bunch of young New York men who get into trouble.

Chuck: Who'd want to do that?

Vivianne: You'd be surprised what people will go see at the movies these days.

Chuck: I suppose so.

Vivianne: Maybe you will write for movies someday. Or those new TV studios.

Chuck: You have so much faith in me, and we've only known each other a few days. The guys have never said as much.

Vivianne: (Frowns) Even your brother?

Chuck: He's not...no, not really.

Vivianne: I'm surprised. You sound like you're very close to all of them, including your brother. (Shrugs) I guess I don't know much about it. I'm an only child, and I haven't had a group of friends I could say I've had adventures with since boarding school.

Chuck: Slip doesn't like to show his feelings. We really are close, but trying to get Slip to open up is more difficult than breaking out of jail.

Vivianne: The macho-tough type.

Chuck: Yeah, that's just the way he is.

Vivianne: (She holds out the paper) Here. There's usually some stories about the local churches in the local interest sections. Would you like to take a look at them?

Chuck: *Takes the paper; then* I've shared a bit about me. You mentioned you went to boarding school. What was that like?

Vivianne: Interesting. A lot more than you might think. I was there during the teens and early 20s. Very modern and "flapperish." My father nearly had an coronary when I bobbed my hair and bought my first skirt that went above my ankle.

Chuck: *Grins a little* Wow...

Vivianne: You should have seen him when I bought my first car! The only reason he allowed it was I told him I could get to the library faster. Actually, it got me to the speakeasies in Harlem faster.

Chuck: Quite the wild one, huh?

Vivianne: And I had a marvelous time. I went to every Broadway show I could. Read a lot of very scandalous romance novels. Very hot stuff.

Chuck: *Raises an eyebrow* Really?

Vivianne: I drank so much bathtub gin, I'm surprised I'm still alive. I've always wanted to write, though. Most of my friends took jobs as stenographers or waitresses. I didn't exactly need to find myself a sugar daddy, and I had no desire to sling hash in some dump. I worked for a publishing house. A different one than the one that puts out my novels. They went out of business three years ago, alas.

Chuck: But you're still writing.

Vivianne: (Nods) I wrote for short stories for romance pulps for a while and for women's magazines. I've been married twice. I left the first one after I caught him making out with a married friend of ours. (Blushes) A male one. (Sighs) The second died during the early years of World War II. His boat was blown up in the Pacific.

Chuck: That's awful! I'll take getting shot versus that any day...and I did.

Vivianne: You were in the recent war, too?

Chuck: *Nods* Yeah. I was in a trench and got hit by a ricocheting bullet.

Vivianne: (Eyes widen) Were you hurt badly?

Chuck: *Touches his left shoulder* Got hit right here. It's mostly healed now. There's just a small scar left.

Vivianne: (Smiles in relief) That's good. I know so many young man came back from that war disfigured...or never returned at all.

Chuck: *Nods* Yeah, I knew one guy who was killed and a couple others who were seriously injured. I wasn't even a target and got shot on my way back from Germany. When I did get home, I heard that Slip had an accident on his motorcycle and broke both his arms. That's why he had those wraps on his arms. *sighs*

Vivianne: (Winces) Oh dear. Your poor brother. No wonder he's clamming up.

Chuck: Bad enough he's usually like that anyway. He's only just finally started to come around again.

Vivianne: Not the most pleasant way to come home after many years.

Chuck: No, definitely not.

Vivianne: What about your other friends? Quite a group of characters there.

Chuck: *Sighs* Sach is Slip's best friend, and there's Bobby and Whitey. That's the group right now. There's a few other guys who have been a part of the group but had to leave for whatever reason.

Vivianne: How long have you known them?

Chuck: Forever and a day. Theyíre all older than me.

Vivianne: So you're the baby of the family, so to speak.

Chuck: *Nods* Yeah, though my best friend, Butch, is younger than I am. He's supposed to be back in a few months. He's playing piano in the USO. He may only be entertaining, but I still worry about him.

Vivianne: (Nods) The USO tours may not be combat, but they are dangerous. Some performers have lost their lives on them. Have you heard from him lately?

Chuck: Two weeks ago. He said they had a close call shortly before and that while he enjoys it, he can't wait to come home.

Vivianne: I'm sure you'll be glad when he gets back. I wish I had friends as close as yours.

Chuck: *Smiles* I'll be your friend.

Vivianne: (She smiles and takes his hand across the table) I'd like that.

Chuck: You've already done so much for me. *moves around next to Vivianne* I want to thank you for all your help. It's the least I can do.

Vivianne: You've helped me, too. I haven't felt this alive since...well, in a long time.

Chuck: *Blushes a little* You're just saying that.

Vivianne: Not at all. It feels good to help someone and make a new friend.

Chuck: Yes, it sure does.

Vivianne: I can't remember the last time I had this kind of attention from a man who wasn't a publisher.

Chuck: And I haven't had attention from a woman like this...ever.

*Slip and Sach enter the cafe just in time to see Chuck kiss Vivianne on the cheek. Slip grabs Sach's jacket and pulls him off to a table on the side, allowing for a rear view of the pair.*

Slip: Looks like our timin's emancipated.

Sach: Wow! They're gettin' pretty chummy over there.

Slip: *Smirks* Good thing I pulled ya away from the fruit cart or we wouldn'ta seen this.

Sach: Yeah! This is better than sneakin' apples from ol' man Kinetti.

Slip: I ain't never seen Chuck turn that shade of red before.

Sach: He looks like a short tomato.

Slip: *As Chuck moves away from Vivianne* An' there he goes, movin' away from her. *sighs*

Sach: He's shy. (Shrugs)

Slip: I know that.

Sach: (Nods) They're talkin' now. Mostly about books n' writin', I think.

Slip: He still looks uneasy.

Sach: He needs to take more lessons in lovin' from you n' me. We ain't shy.

Slip: *Gives Sach an unbelieving look* Uh huh.

Sach: You sure never had problems chasin' girls.

Slip: Not me.

Sach: And I never had any problems chasin' girls. The girls just never wanted to chase me.

Slip: I hadn't noticed that.

Sach: Poor Chuckie. We'd be chasin' girls, and he'd be hidin' from them.

Slip: I hope he don't go runnin' away here. This Vivianne seems to actually like his company.

Sach: Yeah. She seems like a real nice lady. Real pretty, too. She has class.

Slip: *Nods* Yeah, she does.

Sach: (Grins) Hey look, she's holdin' his hand!

Slip: I'll be darned. An' he ain't tryin' ta scramble away.

Sach: He REALLY must like her. Either that, or he's too scared to move.

Slip: Or both.

Waitress: Hello, gentlemen. I'll be taking your orders. What would you like to drink?

Sach: Iced tea, please. Lotsa lemon.

Slip: Coke, and bring the bottle.

Waitress: All right. (She heads off. Sach turns towards Chuck and Vivianne)

Sach: Look at the lovebirds! They're readin' together!

(Vivianne and Chuck lean over some of his stories. Their heads are so close together, they practically touch.)

Slip: At least he ain't sneezin' at her perfume.

Sach: Yeah. I've known ladies who wear some strong perfume. Remember that Agnes MacDougal? You dated her in 10th grade.

Slip: I was nearly in asphyxiation by it.

Sach: Yeah. And then there was Dolores Macready. You could smell her from across the room.

Slip: Farther.

Sach: Speakin' of girls...how's Sally, Slip?

Slip: She's Sally.

Sach: Are you two still goin' out? You've called it off so much, I've lost track.

Slip: She's still pissed about my accident, but she's proud I finally turned it around.

Sach: Why should she be mad about that? You had an accident! You got hurt! I was scared for ya!

Slip: How should I know? She said som'en about why, but I stopped listenin'.

Sach: I'm glad you're ok now. I don't know what I'd do without you or Chuckie.

Slip: You an' me, both, Sach.

Sach: I'm glad we won the war, so all us guys can be together again. I missed Bobby and Chuckie when they were gone. Butch, too.

Slip: It'll be nice to have Butch back. I know Chuck really misses him.

Sach: He's such a nice kid, and a good ivory tickler, too.

Slip: Yeah, he is. *Eyes widen* Crap...Chuck's gettin' up! Get down!

Sach: But what about my iced tea?

Slip: Under the table before he sees us! *whacks Sach with his hat, then disappears under the table*

Vivianne: (Raises an eyebrow and nods at the boys' table) What was that all about?

Chuck: *Looks over at the table and sees only drinks* Must've dropped a napkin. I'll be right back. *heads for the restroom*

Sach: (He peers out) All clear. No Chuckie! Just the lady.

Slip: *Comes out from under the table* He's gotta learn to signal first.

Sach: Yeah! They might have seen us and known we were spyin'.

Slip: Her I ain't so worried about. I just don't want Chuck ta know.

Sach: Yeah! He won't like it. He might think we're musclin' in on his chick.

Slip: He's more likely I don't trust 'im or som'en.

Sach: Don't we?

Slip: Yeah, I trust 'im! I just...wanna know what's happenin'.

Sach: I do, too! This is better n' "The Romance of Helen Trent," an' all those other soap operas that my ma likes.

Slip: If you say so.

Sach: I think she's great for Chuck. Smart, pretty, talented, an' she even dresses nice!

Slip: I don't disagree wit' that.

Slip: He's comin' back!

*Slip ducks under and pulls Sach under with him as Chuck heads back to his table.*

Slip: *Scrunched under the table* I hope he don't make a habit of this, or I'm gonna tell 'im he's gotta talk to his doctor about peein' too much.

(Sach tries not to laugh too hard under the table.)

*Slip whacks Sach with his hat, then peeks out.*

Slip: He's sittin' down again, we're safe.

Sach: Whew! (He climbs back in his chair) I didn't know spyin' was so tirin'.

Slip: *Sits back in his chair and rubs an elbow* My arms're startin' to complain about all this movement.

Vivianne: (Smiles) I'll just be a minute. (She goes to Slip and Sach) Pardon me, but aren't you Mr. Mahoney's friends?

Slip: Uh, yeah, *points at himself* brother and *points at Sach* friend.

Vivianne: Would you like to join us? We're just discussing writing and enjoying some drinks.

Sach: Us?

Slip: Join you?

Vivianne: I'd love to meet Mr. Mahoney's friends and relatives that he's spoken so often of.

Slip: I dunno...

Slip: Chuck don't exactly know we're here.

Vivianne: He's well aware that you're here. He's been watching you for the past ten minutes, since before he had to use the bathroom.

Sach: See, Chief? We didn't have to hide! Chuckie knew!

Slip: Damn.

Vivianne: I thought it would be nice to get to know all of you, too. You seem like such nice boys.

Sach: She don't know us very well, does she?

Slip: Not really.

Vivianne: (She nods towards Chuck at the table) We're over here. You can bring your drinks.

Slip: *Sighs* All right.

Vivianne: (She leads them over to the table) You can bring your chairs. I don't think they'll mind.

Sach: (Sits down next to Chuck) Hi, Chuckie! Boy, is she a nice lady!

Chuck: *Grins as Slip sits across from him* I was wondering how long before you dropped in on us.

Slip: I guess we ain't as good at spyin' as we useta be.

Vivianne: I'm afraid you really need some pointers. The ducking under the table was quite obvious.

Chuck: Besides, I saw you two come in.

Vivianne: So did I. You really need to work on being less conspicuous.

Slip: A'right, a'right.

Vivianne: So, what brings you boys here, other than spying on us?

Sach: We were tryin' to borrow some fruit from Ol' Man Kinetti, but he didn't like it, so we decided to hide in here until the heat died down.

Chuck: "Borrow," huh?

Slip: So, how's this session goin', hmmmm?

Vivianne: Very well. We were discussing writing what you know.

Sach: Oh, Chuckie knows lotsa things! He's real smart. He finished school.

Slip: That's right. He's a really bright guy...who may be just a tad on the shy side.

Chuck: Fellas...

Vivianne: That's all right. I'm not always good at making friends myself. I guess I just prefer being alone nowadays.

Slip: So does Chuck. You two can be alone together.

Vivianne: (Nods) He did mention he tends to be quieter than most of you.

Sach: I never knew how Chuckie did it. I'd go crazy bein' alone all the time. (Shrugs) I ain't used to it. I grew up with sixteen brothers and sisters. I wouldn't know what to do with quiet! ;)

Vivianne: Goodness! I could never even dream of that. I'm the only child of a doting single father.

Slip: Chuckie's the youngest. We have an older sister, too.

Chuck: Fellas...

Vivianne: You have a sister as well? You didn't mention her.

Sach: That's 'cause she's no fun.

Slip: Mary's always yellin' at me.

Chuck: She just wants you to keep a job, Slip, that's all.

Slip: She don't gotta yell so loud.

Chuck: Could we not discuss this right now?

Slip: Right, sure, Chuckie. We'll talk about you, hmmmm?

Vivianne: Mr. Mahoney has told me a lot about you.

Sach: All good, I hope.

Vivianne: He says you've had quite a few adventures.

Slip: Yeah, but what Chuckie writes is more interestin' than anythin' we've ever done.

Slip: An' you can call him Chuck! What's wit' the formalities?

Vivianne: I guess I'm just not used to being so direct with a younger man.

Chuck: And I really don't mind...

Vivianne: Have any of you ever done some writing?

Sach: I once wrote an article for the school newspaper about me winning a runnin' race in school. (Makes a face) They wouldn't publish it. Said I kept talkin' too much about me and not about the other racers.

Slip: I been tryin' to have the newspapers publish some articles, but I keep gettin' turned away. Som'en about bad grammar aní bad spellin' *shrugs*

Vivianne: Perhaps you just need to brush up on both a bit. Your brother could help you. What kind of articles do you like to write?

Slip: Sports. So, uh, what do ya find are Chuckie's strong points, hm?

Vivianne: His vivid descriptions. It's easy to imagine the places and people he's talking about.

Slip: Really? Must feel like yer right there, huh? Chuckie's always had a good imagination.

*Chuck slumps down in his chair, covering his eyes with one hand as his face turns cherry red.*

Vivianne: (Nods) Yes, it does. He has a wonderful imagination. He just needs more polish.

Slip: I betcha can handle that.

Chuck: *Groans* Slip...

Vivianne: I'm going to work with him when I can.

Slip: I'm sure ya will.

Vivianne: (Looks at her watch) I'm afraid it's time for me to go. I have to meet my publisher. (She smiles) I'll call your friend Louie and see if we can set up a date to work on your stories.

Chuck: Anytime, Vivianne.

Vivianne: You have a nice evening! (Smiles and waves at Sach and Slip) It was nice meeting you boys.

Sach: Likewise, ma'am.

Slip: Nice ta meet ya, too!

Chuck: *After Vivianne leaves* You two are dead.

Slip: *Shrugs* Yer welcome.

Sach: (As they get up) Are you gonna marry her, Chuckie?

Chuck: Sach...

(The guys laugh and slap the embarrassed Chuck's back as they head out and we fade out on their backs.)