Hardball Theatre: Mr. Infinite’s Cup of Coffee
Mr. Infinite’s Cup of Coffee
A scene from the musical, “The Brief Immortals”
by Keith Good
(ANDI Hartwell, a famous actress, and ISAAC Greystone, Gubernatorial Candidate, sit before a greasy spoon café on city’s main drag. They stare at each other with a bit of wonder.)
Isaac: Who would have thought? On a date with Andi Hartwell, the famous actress.
Andi: Date? Date? I know you politician-types. Before we go any farther: this is just a coffee. No sexy texts afterward, no on-call, high price liaisons. Just a kvetch over some greasy spoon coffee while our Botox injections even out.
Isaac: Oh oh. No. Of course. I… I’m a one woman man. It was always going to be Jeanie or nothing from the moment I saw her.
Andi: And where is your lovely wife, then? Don’t politicians wives usually have tea at some D.A.R. chapter, work the women vote? Loosen the clasps on pocketbooks?
(ISAAC takes a long sip from his coffee. He twists the wedding ring on his finger. His face drops)
Andi: Oh. Oh shit. I’m sorry. Shows how much I follow politics. What a stupid, shit-headed thing to say. I… I’m sure she was lovely.
Isaac: She was. A big fan of your movies, actually. “Love Happens” was our last date.
(A long silence. ANDI and ISAAC drink their coffee, look to the bustle of morning around them.)
Andi: Man, that Dr. Alibi sure was a creep. Does good work, though.
Isaac: Yeah? How we lookin?
Andi: You could pass for a co-ed. And not a single, wrinkle, red mark or puncture.
Isaac: And the actress is ready for Seventeen Magazine.
(A GERIATRIC, enters, hobbling on a straight line to ISAAC.)
Geriatric: I have your ball.
Isaac: Yes. What…
Geriatric: Senator Greystone? Mister Infinite? I was there. Pops bought us two bleacher seats. I waited and waited, glove ready, but nothing could break the infield’s gravity. But then, in the ninth… He hit your pitch a mile. I stretched. Like destiny…
(GERIATRIC produces an old, scuffed baseball. He holds it aloft like a sacred gem.)
Geriatric: It fell right into my glove. I heard you were in town. I can’t believe it’s you. Mister Infinite. I want you to have it.
(The GERIATRIC passes the baseball to ISAAC and shakes his hands. ISAAC tries his best to mask the wince, the annoyance, as he takes the ball, speaks to this prospective voter.)
Isaac: Oh. Well, thank you. I can’t tell you how much it means to be reunited again with this invaluable piece of my own personal history. Because that’s exactly what I’ll do as Governor of this good state: reunite the economy with its history of strong, local manufacturing. Vote Greystone.
Geriatric: I’m a Democrat.
Isaac: (Pure acid) We all make mistakes.
(The GERIATRIC is put off by ISAAC’s impromptu campaign speech. He gives a nod and hobbles off.)
Andi: What the hell was that?
Isaac: It’s… I get that every once and awhile.
Isaac: I, ah… I used to play professional baseball. Mostly minor leagues, but I appeared in the bigs.
Andi: No shit?
Isaac: Just a cup of coffee.
Andi: I don’t care if it was a cup of gas station espresso. Not many people make the big leagues. I’m impressed. You know, I’m starting to rethink that, “not a date,” thing, Greystone. Could be good for my career, stir some tabloid brouhaha. “Alluring Actress kanoodles with…” What was that name the old bag called you? “Mister Infinite?” You had a nickname?
(SONG: MISTER INFINITE)
They call me Mister Infinite,
And sister isn’t it
A bitch? A single pitch
Which lives in infamy.
Forever Mister Infinite?
Shit. From one blistering hit
That cracking bat
Andi: (spoken) I don’t understand. You make it sound like pitching in the big leagues is a bad thing.
They called me ‘grinder.’
I was a grey-haired old timer
In the Minors at an ancient thirty-two.
Cleveland was in town
And the big league club was a southpaw down
When fate’s fickle finger finally fell
Andi: (spoken) You must’ve been ecstatic.
(ISAAC stands, suddenly transported back in time.)
I rode the bullpen pine
Into the top of the ninth
When the call came over
(ISAAC walks with purpose to the pitcher’s mound.)
Andi: (spoken) Threw him the heater, right?
My dreams danced at my fingertips
My future found a split-fingered grip
I wound and chucked one over.
(ISAAC winds up, a Bob-Feller leg-kick, and throws his pitch to the audience.)
But my finger slipped the seam
Instead of the fastball of my dreams
I chucked a meatball, smashed a homer
(There’s a CRACK! of ball to bat and ISAAC’S follow through brings him hands to knees, head hung low as the ball flies over him into the outfield stands.)
Skip gave the hook
And thus closed the book
On an infinitesimal career.
(ISAAC walks dolefully from the mound toward up stage, taking one last doleful look over his shoulder.)
A run without an out
Sums an ERA of about,
Infinity. So with my name appears:
Sister, what I’d give to switch
That shitty pitch
And throw some real heat.
A lifetime of Mister Infinite,
Born of one digital glitch,
A youthful hitch
Which lives infinitely
Sister, isn’t it
a bitch? A single pitch
Can live in infamy.
Forever Mister Infinite
Shit. From one blistering hit
That cracking bat
Which echoes infinitely.
I’m Mister Infinite.
(END SONG: MISTER INFINITE)
Andi: You only got to throw one pitch?
Isaac: Sent back down before the game was even over, practically. When spring training rolled around the next year, my name wasn’t on the RSVP list. I came back home, studied law… No matter how many cases I won, no matter what office I’ve held, that nickname is a burr stuck to my heel.
Andi: You think that ball he gave you is actually your one pro pitch?
Isaac: Dunno. Tell you the truth, I’ve had at least a dozen yahoos give me “the ball” over the years. He said he was a kid at the game, though. Looked about twenty years too old. then again, everyone in this town looks twenty years too old. I suppose this ball is as likely as any other. At least it looks game-used. Could be.
(ISAAC takes one final look at the ball. His fingers feint into a split fingered fastball grip as he shuttles the totem into his pocket.)
Isaac: You know, you and me, we’re not too different.
Andi: I have a chromosome and uterus that would disagree.
Isaac: We’re both actors.
Isaac: I stand in front of people and show them a version of myself, a blank mask for them to project themselves onto. Not to different than acting in a film, right?
Andi: You couldn’t give me enough points on the backend to run for office, though. Like Clint Eastwood being mayor of his little town? No. Thank. You. The politics of acting are bad enough. I can only imagine the politics of politics.
Isaac: What about the politics of acting, though? How does it feel to be ‘America’s Sweetheart?’
Isaac: Did I say something?
Andi: I can’t stand being called that. It’s degrading.
Andi: I never set out to do romantic comedies. But, well—it’s easy work if you’re…
Andi: Eye of the beholder. But yeah, it’s steady money and I got sold into the lifestyle. But, if, say well… Cary Grant, for example. He did romantic comedies and he’s still a ‘leading man.’ But I do two pictures that open over Valentine’s Day and I’m a ‘sweetheart.’ It’s degrading.
Isaac: We’re back to gas station espresso, Andi. Scores of waitresses in the Hills would kill to drink your cup of coffee.
Andi: Not me.
Isaac: Makes two of us. Like I said, we’re alike. Andi… That’s short for Andrea?
Andi: Mm. Andrea Alice Dalkowski. Gary, the studio head, he named me Hartwell.
Isaac: Do you mind if I call you Andrea?
Andi: Listen, my thing…
Isaac: Yeah, my campaign manager is probably having an aneurysm right about now, wondering where I’ve been. I’ve got a town hall in a few hours.
(ISAAC and ANDI stand.)
Isaac: Maybe we catch each other down the road?
Andi: Yeah, the next time we need our “fountain of youth” shots.
Isaac: It’s been a pleasure, Andrea.
Andi: A pleasant surprise, Mr. Infinite.
(They shake hands and depart in different directions.)
Isaac: Vote Greystone?
Andi: I’m a Democrat.
Isaac: We all make mistakes, Andrea.