Scene 1 - Greenwich Village
Characters in this Scene
Dennis O'Hare as Allan Cabot - the eldest of the 4 Cabot siblings, poet and playwright
Cheyenne Jackson as Kevin Cabot - the second of the 4 Cabot siblings, novelist
Sarah Paulson as Georgina Harris - poet, Greenwich muse, and actress
Chaz Bono as Hubert T. Horder - novelist and master of the macabre
For full characters and synopsis, click here (WARNING spoilers, as this contains the plot outline)
On a bright summer morning in 1922, Allan Cabot, poet, playwright, and raconteur is woken up by the general hullabaloo of Greenwich Village floating through the open window of the dilapidated rooms he rents. Down on the street a policeman blows his whistle, and the exhaust of a motor car backfires loudly causing the milk cart horse to rear and whiney. Groaning, he rolls the sleeping body of a woman off him. She hits the floor with a thud, then after a brief moan of complaint, she settles back to sleep again on the bare boards. He pinches the bridge of his nose between forefinger and thumb and winces from the pain of a looming hangover. The place is in complete disarray with signs of last night’s debauched party littered around the room. Men and women lie sleeping on the floor and couches, empty bottles cover the tables, lipstick smeared whiskey glasses and cigarette buts are strewn across the Turkish rug. Alan closes the window and crawls gratefully back into bed.
He is drifting back into sleep when the incessant ringing of the telephone wakes him again. He bunches a sheet around him like a makeshift toga and angrily strides toward the phone. As he reaches for the earpiece he loses the tenuous grip on the sheet, exposing his bare backside to the room.
“Allan, is that you? You sound terrible.”
“My dear brother Kevin, I always sound like this.”
“Must you always be so sarcastic Alan.”
“Well, I do try to keep up a certain degree of sardonicism, it makes for better poetry.”
“Only you haven’t published anything in a while.”
Allan grimaces at the comment. He traces his hand along the mantlepiece and knocks over the family photograph of himself and his three siblings with a flick of his finger. “Oh yes, have you called to gloat then. Congratulations on your book by the way. I hear it is the next ‘great American Novel’, so you are now joining the ranks of Mr Fitzgerald? Well done, well done indeed.”
Kevin Cabot laughs good naturedly on the other end of the line. “Allan, sincerity is not your forte, but I will accept those good wishes no matter how begrudged they are. That’s not why I called though; I was hoping to convince you to come to Blackwood for the summer.”
Allan picks up another photograph on the mantlepiece of a large, graceful mansion set on the banks of an idyllic lake surrounded by trees. He studies it intently for a moment, the trees seem to blow in the breeze as the photograph seemingly comes to life. Alan shakes his head and places it back down. “Who’s going?”
“All of us will be there, a Cabot reunion of sorts. I’m also inviting a couple of guests – Mimi Brown and her new husband. I believe you have heard of Mimi.”
“You know I have, but what you don’t know is that we have crossed swords in the past.”
“Well, that should make for some interesting fireworks then.”
“Perhaps I will come then. I do love a good fireworks display.” Alan smiles wickedly.
“There’s someone else I’ll be bringing as well, Edith Fraser. In fact, we were hoping to announce our engagement after the summer, but we’re just keeping it in the family and out of the tabloids for now.”
“The department store heiress! Just what are you playing at Kevin?”
Kevin sidesteps the question. “Who will you bring then Allan, I do hope it will be Georgina, she is such delightful company.” He laughs again more heartily.
“Now who is the sarcastic one.” Allan looks up to see the door open and a doe eyed woman with short bobbed brown hair enters the apartment, she steps lithely over the sleeping bodies and approaches him earnestly. She is totally unfazed by his state of undress and barely gives the room a second glance. “I’ll talk soon Kevin, and by the way, I will be bringing guests, but for now I must go.” Before Kevin can question him, Alan hangs up the receiver, his eyes are focused on the woman.
“Well?” he demands.
“I’ve found him! Come on, get dressed! He is giving a reading at the Washington Square Bookshop at 12 o’clock, so we need to hurry.”
Georgina Harris and Allan Cabot are a notorious couple among the bohemian set of Greenwich Village. They are known for their wild carousing, creative genius, and of course their explosive arguments which have earned them legendary status - and the attention of the local constabulary. To say their relationship is unconventional, would be an understatement. At its best it could be highly creative and collaborative and at its toxic worst it could sink them both into the depths of suicidal despair. Georgina is a renowned published poet in her own right and dabbles in acting, or rather performance pieces of her work. Today happens to be one of their better days, because they are participating in one of their favorite “sports”.
They enter the crowded bookstore where there is only standing room at the back. Behind a podium is an extremely uptight looking man who is fastidiously polishing his glasses. The store owner asks the patrons for hush and then introduces him with a flourish as Hubert T. Horder, Master of the Macabre. Everything about the man is very orderly. His black suit is as neat as a pin, his hair is combed back with slick precision and his moustache and beard are neatly trimmed. His dark eyes dart furtively around the room. Hubert fumbles with the book he is about to read, and it hits the floor with a thud, he is momentarily paralysed with embarrassment. A few members of the audience start to giggle. A young woman stoops from her chair and hands him the book, she smiles sweetly as their fingers touch. The encounter causes Hubert to blush almost to his hairline. He takes a handkerchief from his pocket to mop at the beads of nervous perspiration forming on his brow.
“A real Nervous Nellie, isn’t he?” Georgina whispers behind her hand.
“Delightfully so,” Allan cannot contain his grin, enjoying the discomfort displayed by the odd character before him.
After much throat clearing, Hubert recovers and begins the reading. Within minutes he has the audience completely captivated. He weaves a tale of dark malevolence, described in chilling detail, and delivered in his curious monotone speech. The story is about the old Gods, an alternate creation story, and the frailty of the human race. He comes to a scene where a young woman, having been sacrificed by her village to a living god-like creature, gets slowly devoured from the feet up. The audience erupts in gasps, the room is full of commotion as several women faint and those with weak stomachs make their swift exit. Alan and Georgina laugh uproariously at the chaos while Hubert stands bewildered by the crowd’s reaction.
“So, what do you think?” she asks catching her breath.
“It appears you have outdone yourself this time Georgina, he may very well topple my champion.”
“Oh, yes, now who was that again?”
“None other than Charles Edward Mott, self-proclaimed patron of the arts and clueless wonder.”
“May the best man, or woman, win.” Georgina smiles gleefully.
“Indeed.” Allan holds up his little finger. They link pinkies as a sign of agreement and step out arm in arm into the June sunshine.