(PHONE RINGS, 3X, PICKUP)
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Hello?
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): (A BEAT) Duane?
GK: Yes. It's me mom.
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): I'm confused. Did I call you or did you call me?
GK: I called you, mom.
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Well whatd'ya know. These must be the end times after all. Wait, you're not sick, are you?
GK: No, I'm not sick.
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Is your little house on fire? Do you need money?
GK: That's funny, mom. Listen, I called about your birthday.
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Oh, Duane. You remembered it's in January. Finally. (CHOKES) That's so sweet.
GK: I hadn't heard from you, so I was just wondering what's going on.
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): (RECOVERING) What's going on? We're in Milwaukee.
GK: Milwaukee, Wisconsin?
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Oh sure. We got a hotel room. Just your dad and I. Free parking, free color TV, and the breakfast buffet is from 6 to 9:30 and it's free. They have a pancake machine, Duane. Can you believe it?
GK: Do we have family in Milwaukee?
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Nope. And that's why we're here. Because there's no family. No family means No Disappointments.
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Your dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said, a week in a hotel and no visitors. So what's going on with you?
GK: I don't know. I was planning to come over and bring a gift.
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Well, now you don't have to. So how you coming along with your girlfriend? She didn't dump you, did she?
GK: She's on vacation.
SS: Vacation? Where?
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): And she didn't invite you along?
GK: No, she didn't. Anyway, happy birthday and enjoy that breakfast buffet.
SS: Are you okay, honey? You don't sound okay.
GK: I'm fine.
SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): How could she go off to Miami and leave you alone?
GK: It's not an issue. I'm fine. I'm working on a novel.
SS: Oh, honey. Not another one.
GK: It's called "A Distant Line of Trees"----
SS: A Distant Line of Trees.
SS: It sounds sad.
GK: I don't know. Not done with it yet. How about I come to Milwaukee and bring you your gift?
SS: Oh, I don't want you to interrupt your writing. It's fine.
GK: I can just shoot over there, wouldn't even need to stay overnight ---- just come up ---- bring a cupcake with a candle-----
SS: Don't worry about it. I'm fine, Duane. I'm absolutely fine. I'm in bed with a good book and room service is bringing me a bowl of chili and a grilled cheese sandwich and I'm going to enjoy the heck out of that ----- (OFF) just put it on the dresser. Thank you. Thanks. Here you go. ----- It's lovely, Duane. (WEEPY) Someone just brought me food on a tray. You don't know what that means. A bowl of chili and a grilled cheese. And coffee. It's so nice to be waited on. Seventy-five years I've been waiting on other people hand and foot like a scullery maid, and now someone has finally brought me food. On a tray. A beautiful young Hispanic man. His name tag said Juan. He looked at me in a certain way, Duane. I swear. I could see it in his eyes.
SS: I'm seventy-five but I'm not dead, Duane.
GK: Mom, try to control yourself.
SS: I gave him a $40 tip for a $17 lunch ---- that sends a signal, don't you think?
GK: Is Dad having a good time?
SS: He went ice fishing.
GK: You're there alone?
SS: I like it alone. I've had two glasses of wine, Duane, and I'm considering a third.
GK: Mom, I'm getting in the car and coming to Milwaukee. I'll be there in five hours. What hotel are you staying at?
SS: Goodbye, honey. (SINGS) Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye. Cheerio, off I go on my way.
GK: What hotel are you at, Mom? Mom? (CLICK, DIAL TONE)