Where has she got to? Rebellious girl, a little too mouthy. Won’t serve her well as a woman, as a wife – either. Just yesterday she was playing with dolls and today…where has she got to?
Celia…up and left. Like her mother.
She should have taught the girl manners.
Halls used to be filled with her – Celia, not her mother. and her cousin – Celia’s cousin not her mother’s cousin. Celia and her cousin. Your niece. The other one. Shrieking. Up and down and up and down. Little girls. Growing fast. And now they’re gone. Two for the price of one, gone.
Senior: Gone. Good.
Roland, the meddling old codger: Gone.
His sons? Gone, gone, and gone.
Frederick? Still here.
Frederick. Here. In charge, baby. Party never stops, and that’s why this is the place to be. Dim the lights, drink all night, toasts to the Duke. Frederick: The Duke.
There she is! – slipping in between the dancers. Everyone’s a dancer though, moving, writhing, drinking, not going to remember anything like a missing daughter. Too many to keep track of: Gone.
Isn’t that her hair under the lights? Her skirt disappearing around a corner? No. No that’s someone else not gone. Yet. Don’t be dumb, Frederick – Dukes aren’t dumb. Maybe the Absinthe’s hitting you a little hard, eh? Naw, Duke’s don’t get hangovers. Maybe Senior did.
But he’s not the Duke, you’re the duke. He’s dumb. He’s gone. You’re here. With your court and your drink and your daughter. She’s right over there, how did you miss her? Her hands waving with the crowd’s, a massive undulation in time to the beat. She always liked to dance. Or was it the other girl? Your niece? Celia never dances. Hates dancing. Always has.
Then who’s that over there? It’d be easier to see with less people. More gone. Maybe? It’s easy to vanish on a dance floor.
Gone. Too easy.
Good thing you’re watching. Too easy to disappear. Dukes don’t disappear so easily. You don’t. Did Senior? No…there was noise, then. Lots. Wailing…and the running up and down the halls stopped – where do those girls spend all their time? Where have they got to?
They’re too young to be out here, dancing with the rest. Hide and seek? Must be it. Hide and seek. Used to be fun – 30 seconds to disappear. Unless you peek. Then you can see where everybody goes.
Eyes at keyholes, faces in mirrors, secrets under the bed, spies in it. Never keep them. One night. That’s the rule. One night. Then months go by and suddenly: Celia.
Get someone else to feed her. She cries too much. Did you? Did your brother? You wouldn’t know, you’re the youngest.
No, Frederick, you’re an only child, remember? Like Celia. Will someone please get her a bottle or something. She keeps knocking on my door in the middle of the night and it’s driving me crazy, I’m busy. Your mother’s gone, Celia, Christ, how many times do I have to say it?
How was I supposed to know you’d follow her?
Someone refill this for me – no, I’ll do it myself. Never know what you might put in it, eh? You can’t pull one over on me, that’s why I’m the Duke. Not gone yet. Still here.
Outlasted them, all. Winner, always have been. Lonely at the top, they say? “They” is overrated. Roland used to say it. But how would he know? he’s a “they”. As in “they” are gone. As in “they” don’t know a goddamn thing about me and how hard I worked to get here.
When you’re handed everything on a silver platter you get soft. Like Senior. More like “Senior Citizen” – ha! Old-ass push-over. “Senior citizen”…that’s a good one. Should remember to tell that to Celia later – she loves wordplay. Hates dance, loves wordplay. See? Absinthe-shmabsinthe, you think I don’t know my own daughter?
The fool might have liked it. Give him a taste of his own medicine. Fucking nut. If anyone’s crazy here, it’s him. Or, no – was crazy. Keep forgetting – he’ gone too. Much quieter around here. Well, not really, the music’s still loud – and Celia won’t stop knocking to be let in – Jesus Christ, girl, I’m busy. Go play with your cousin, you’re always off doing that anyway.
Off with her. Off with your cousin. Rosalind playing, Celia with her. Rosalind, dancing, Celia with her – even though Celia hates dancing. Rosalind gone, Celia with her.
Celia with her.
Like Roland, like Senior like all these bodies falling into the shadows under the shifting lights, drink all night, toasts to the Duke.
Frederick: Still here.