The Empress Dowager at the Flop House

The third of The Anais Plays is a one-act called The Empress Dowager at the Flop House.  We see Anais and Henry in a bedroom with a balcony in the south of France on a hot summer night in 1939.  Henry is taking a boat to Greece in the morning but Anais has to stay with her husband.  He tells her to embrace the chaos and write out her soul.  She says he is brave and selfish while she is generous and nurturing.  They argue about Gonzalo, an Incan Anais is fucking and Artaud, although she is no longer fucking him.  She tells Henry that a lot of people are going to hate him and his work because there are some versions of truth nobody wants to hear.  Henry says he doesn’t want to go to Greece without her and suggests they get married.  He says she’s the only person he can’t write about and she tells him he’s been living off her husband’s money for years.  She says love is not a game but a tragedy which she plays like a game because nothing else works.  He says he appreciates what she’s done for him.  They both talk about sleeping with June, Henry’s second wife, and Henry learns that Anais slept with her father.  They argue about lying and hypocrisy and she says they can see each other again when the war is over.  He says he thought she loved him but she is the sophisticated European woman slumming with the poor vulgar boy from Brooklyn, like the Empress Dowager at the flop house.  When he says he doesn’t want to lose her, she says that everybody loses everybody.  We hear three loud knocks on the door, then four more loud knocks.  He says he never answers the door because he thinks somebody’s come to get him.  She tells him no woman ever existed like the women in his books and women don’t like his books because the men in them want to use them like meat puppets.  He says he loves her with all his heart and she is using the war as an excuse to get rid of him.  She says nobody can save anybody but only comfort them for a while.  She asks him not to spoil their last night until God knows when.  She asks him to hold her but he says he has lost her and will never get her back.  He goes to the desk, sits, and pours himself a drink but doesn’t drink.  She puts her hands on his shoulders from behind and says that people who love each other never lose each other.  Lights fade out.

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