Scene One: The main lounge area of Kewl Beanz! in Pleasantview. It is late Friday morning, only a few minutes before the business will open for the day. Various staff members are tidying up the place here, as well as upstairs in the room known as "Krebs' Krib," or doing prep work in the kitchen. Kewl Beanz! manager Tara King begins chatting with her assistant, Bella Vergara, who has just arrived.
Bella: Sorry I wasn't here sooner, Tara. My babysitter was late.
Tara: No problem. I have plenty of extra help on, as you can see. If this weekend is anything like last weekend, we're gonna need them all! (brief pause) Hope you're prepared to work late tonight.
Bella: Yes. I can't believe how busy we've been since Mr. Cabana's engagement ended!
Tara: I know... It's like they're all making up for the two weeks they stayed away!
As Tara and Bella laugh, Gretchen Von Grüber enters the lounge.
Tara: Ohmigods! Gretchen!
Gretchen walks swiftly toward Tara, and the two embrace briefly. Bella laughs.
Bella: You two act like you haven't seen each other for ages! (to Gretchen) Didn't you and your fiancé come back from your vacation a couple of weeks ago?
Gretchen: Yes, but Tara and I have not seen each other until now! (Tara nods in agreement as Gretchen extends her hand toward Bella.) And you must be... Isabella?
Bella (shaking Gretchen's hand): Yes, but please, call me "Bella." I'm so glad to meet you, Gretchen. Tara's always talking about you.
Gretchen: I love your accent! It is South American?
Bella (smiling and nodding): Yes. Colombian. (brief pause) And I love your accent, too!
Gretchen: Thank you. It is German.
Bella (laughing): I know! You're the "titanic Teutonic!" (Gretchen and Tara laugh.) I used to read everything I could get my hands on about all of the SnL staff, before Tara hired me. Women's Wear Thursday, Peeps, Moolah Magazine... even the so-called social pages of the Pleasantview Poop Sheet!
Tara: That's the dork who keeps misspelling Gretchen's last name as "Van Grüber!" (Tara, Gretchen, and Bella laugh.)
Gretchen (to Tara): I know you are busy, but could we talk for a few minutes?
Tara: Sure! Bella, if you don't mind...?
Bella: Of course not. Don't be silly. Everything's under control here. (jokingly, to Tara) Just don't take too long.
Tara (smiling): Hey, since when did you become the boss? (Tara, Bella and Gretchen laugh, as Tara and Gretchen walk to a nearby table and sit.)
Tara: I am so out of the loop since David and I moved into our own place! And I've been working so many hours here...
Gretchen (nodding): My Skip has been keeping me busy, too! I am hardly home. He has been having me make many arrangements for new movie production studio he and Foxster plan to build here in Pleasantview.
Tara: That, I knew about. In fact, it was David who found out about that abandoned dirigible hangar when he was downtown talking to Carol Brady about some minor details concerning our new place.
Gretchen: I have been arranging details with builders for new office building on same property. (pause) And I must see new house you share with Foxster!
Tara: Definitely. Soon as we can swing it. You'll love it... Although it seems like I spend most of my time there in bed!
Gretchen (blushing): Tara... This is too much information!
Tara (laughing): No, sweetie, I meant that after I get out of here every night -- this place is booming and I haven't had a day off since I don't know when -- all I want to do is sleep!
Gretchen: Same with myself. Uncle Kris has left message after message, but I have only spoken with him once or two times on telephone, and too briefly.
Tara: And I am dying to hear about your vacation, naturally...
Gretchen: It was idealic!
Tara (smiling): I think the word you're looking for is "idyllic," hon.
Gretchen: Not "idealic?" But... our time in Hawaii was ideal...
Tara (grinning): Never mind. (pause) Actually, now that I finally have you here, I wanted to discuss my book with you.
Gretchen: That is right! I saw Foxster for a few minutes some days ago, and he tell... told... Skip and me you have love story published soon! He was so very proud! Tell me about story, please!
Tara: No time right now... But I'm hoping things will get a little less hectic for both of us soon. My publisher wants to send me on a little tour to publicize my novel, and I was hoping you could accompany me?
Gretchen: Ohhh, Tara... I do not know! So much is happening in business right now.
Tara: I understand. Believe me, I do! But Bella's really busting her tail here, and catching on rapidly, and I was hoping...
Gretchen: Also... (long pause) I do not know if it is good idea for me to be away from home again. Not for too long a time. (pause) And not while Skip is here, without me.
Tara: Meaning what, exactly?
Gretchen: Since I am back in Pleasantview, funny things have happened.
Gretchen: "Funny," like "strange." (pause) Tara... I know you are very smart. Sometimes I think that in many ways you are smarter than Foxster, or even my Skipster. You teach me fluid English in very few months.
Tara (smiling): "Fluid?" You mean "fluent."
Gretchen (nodding): I know, my English still has little grinches...
Tara (laughing): That's "glitches," sweetie! (Gretchen nods.) Damn! Maybe I'm not as smart as you think. (pause) That was a joke, hon. (Gretchen nods again, seriously. Tara sighs.) Okay... What's wrong?
Gretchen's eyes begin watering.
Gretchen: Do you think Skip could be... losing love for me, so soon?
Tara: Oh, I doubt that. What makes you ask?
Gretchen: Do you think he could find new love with... Vickie?
Tara (bristling): That skinny little wretch? Ohmigods, you can't be serious!
Gretchen: I see them. They are... friendly. They get along very well now. Too well for me to find comfort. And one day, Luke brought me home from downtown, and I see Vickie in hallway, leaving conference room. She had been alone with Skip. And as she pass me, I notice her dress was not zipped up all the way to the top!
Tara: Oh, hell. That happens sometimes. Haven't you ever had a dress with a troublesome zipper? I certainly have.
Gretchen: True, but... One other day, I find earring outside of my bedroom door, on floor in hallway. The earring was Vickie's.
Tara: Uhhh... She could have lost it on her way to... ummm...
Gretchen: Tara, I am scared!
Tara: Well, did you tell Skip you were worried?
Gretchen (laughing bitterly): Tara! I am not like you! I do not confront people.
Tara: Well... Maybe you'd better make an exception just this once, before you go jumping to any conclusions.
Gretchen: It is not like me to do that. To confront others, I mean.
Tara: Please, sweetie, talk to the Skipster before you do anything you'll be sorry for later. This could all be totally innocent. (brief pause) In fact, I'm sure it is.
Gretchen (standing): I wish that I could be as certain of this as you are. (pause) I must go now. I have many duties today. (pause) We can talk later, I hope?
Tara: I'll try, but today -- and tonight -- are gonna be pretty damned hectic for me, too. (pause) Just take my advice and tell Skip how you feel, okay?
Gretchen: I... shall try. Good-bye.
Gretchen begins walking toward the exit. Tara rises and starts to follow, but her cell phone rings.
Tara: Damnit! Who the...?
Tara looks at the name on the caller ID with surprise, as Gretchen exits.
* * * * *
To Be Continued! Next: Things get worse.