Laurette Taylor

Actress. Best known for The Glass Menagerie.
Death due to complications of long-term alcoholism.
Born: April 1, 1883
Died: December 7, 1946

(An excerpt from What Was Lost.)

Ever notice how liquor smells like smoke and smoke smells like liquor because every bar in America is hazy? Makes me thirsty when I’m up there. Makes me thirsty up there on Blue Mountain. I don’t remember when it started, or how I managed, but one day, I made the switch to coffee. If I could run it through my veins, I would. (Beat.) It took a little while, but I have grown accustomed to the taste of coffee. When you try your first sip as a toddler, it surprises you. Looks rich and sweet. Like liquid chocolate. But then comes the bite. Almost chalky-like until you add the sugar. (Beat.) Once, my daughter caught me adding ice cubes to my coffee the other day. “I miss the sound they make against the glass”, I told her. She didn’t understand. (Beat.) The ice cubes frightened me. I’d be lying if I said they didn’t. I was so desperate for the memory of a cocktail that I dropped the little bastards into my coffee cup and sipped away. (Beat.) Sometimes, I’d wander into a bar and I ask for a drink. “Just one”, I’d say. “You can leave it there. I just want to look at it for a while. Stare it down. Look it in the eye. If you see me reach for it, take it away. Before I drink it all, take it away. Before I fall back in love with all that bite, take it away.” And as I’d watch Harry pour– they’re always named Harry, have you ever noticed? — As he poured the drink I’d never drink, “I turned back time. I reverse it to that” August morning in 1912 when John brought in a script, all bound up in a bright red ribbon, and woke me up to share it. The pages were so crisp and clean. Pristine. And there it was in neat, black type. Peg O’ My Heart. And just below, “For Laurette.” (Beat.) Do you know? (Beat.) Do you know what it is to be loved like that? To be loved so hard you think your heart might explode? (Beat.) John had found himself quite the buyer, too. Mr. Morosco, can you believe it? Oliver Morosco. The play was good. Wonderful, really. But no one ever expected that sort of a sensation. Not even a man like Mr. Morosco. After all, it had been quite the year. For all of us, really. (Beat.) I’d just closed The Bird of Paradise. A dud. Only ran a few weeks. And would you believe? We closed just a day before another famous flop. I was cleaning out my dressing room while everyone was drowning. (Beat.) We lost friends, John and I. Three. They found one of them bobbing in the Atlantic. Never found the others, though. Still… Three funerals in one week. That was hard. My mouth was dry. So, I started with one. Just one before each funeral to– To take off the edge, I told myself. And a person can get by on one a day for a long time. Years, really. A decade if you try hard enough. And I did. But when you measure a life in the theatre, you become awfully familiar with the sound of closing doors. And closing doors can make a person thirsty. And thirsty people drink. And when that Hollywood bastard cast Wanda fucking Hawley as Peg? John wouldn’t have it. He fought while I drank. Fought so hard that cancer snuck in and ate him alive. (Beat.) So I poured myself another. (Beat.) And another. I’d drink anything. Anything at all. Careful where you leave your lighter fluid! (Beat.) I would’ve bottled John’s blood and drank that too. If they had let me. (Beat.) Do they have meetings here? Are there basements filled with people just like me? Will there be someone to talk to when the loneliness creeps in? Or will I just be here… Always waiting? Always “attempting to find in motion what was lost in space?” (Beat.) Hello? Hello, is anyone listening?


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