Thursday, February 16, 2006

David and Scott: A Love Story, Kind Of

The following are excerpts from the exchanges between Scott McLellan and Daivd Gregory earlier this week during the daily White House Briefings. No words have been changed, just sorta rearranged. Also, stage directions have been added. For context. Because, you know, this is a complicated story.

(We are in a warmly-lit bedroom, neat and tidy. You could bounce a quarter off the bed. A book is on the bedside table, neatly bookmarked. SCOTT is packing a suitcase, open on the bed. His face is locked in a mask of inscrutability. He reaches over, picks up the book, hesitates for a moment, and presses it snugly into a free corner. Everything is done with precision.

Suddenly DAVID lurches into the doorway, clutching a bottle. What little liquid remains inside sloshes noisily. SCOTT freezes for a brief moment, then returns to his packing. DAVID shifts his posture in the doorway, aggressively, and speaks in a loud, clear voice, too loud for the little room. He will not be ignored. He slurs only slightly.)
DAVID: Scott, I just have two questions.

SCOTT: (stoically) Well, I think that I've expressed my views, and we went through this yesterday.

DAVID: But that's a non-answer!
(In two swift strides he is beside SCOTT. He reaches out and grabs SCOTT's forearm in mid-pack, locking it in midair. SCOTT pauses, then looks up at DAVID very slowly. His face remains impassive, other than a telltale tightening of his jaw.)
SCOTT: I don't want to make this about anything other than what it is. It is what it is, David. I was very respectful and responsive to your questions yesterday.

DAVID: All right, but --

SCOTT: (shaking off his grip) ...I provided you the information I knew based on the facts that were available, and we've been through this pretty thoroughly.
(DAVID glares at SCOTT and folds his arms across his chest. He raises his chin defiantly, challengingly.)
DAVID (smugly): You don't have an answer to this question. All right, one final question.

SCOTT (snapping): Wait, wait, I'm just not going to go back through it again. I'd appreciate it if you'd let me respond fully before you jump in!
(He slams the suitcase shut in frustration. He is breathing heavily, nostrils flaring. They glare at each other. David's lip quivers slightly, but he glares back, resolute.)
DAVID: I understand that, but I'm not getting answers here, Scott. Everybody knows what is an answer and what is not an answer!

SCOTT (pointing a finger warningly): David, now you want to make this about you, and it's not about you, it's about what happened. And that's what I'm trying to --

DAVID: I'm sorry that you feel that way, but that's not what I'm trying to do!

SCOTT: You don't have to yell!

DAVID (yelling): I will yell! If you -- take shots at me personally -- which I don't appreciate -- I will raise my voice! Because that's wrong!

SCOTT: Calm down, Dave, calm down!

DAVID (screaming): I'LL CALM DOWN WHEN I FEEL LIKE CALMING DOWN!
(DAVID swipes at the air with the bottle, clumsily. Alcohol sloshes over into the air, onto his hand. It shocks him from the moment. They stare at each other.

SCOTT crosses to him slowly, gently takes his hand. Tenderly, he dries it with his sleeve, holding DAVID's eyes. DAVID is still, holding his breath. SCOTT takes the bottle, gently. DAVID's hand drops. Their eyes remain held.)
SCOTT (softly): I'm sorry you're getting all riled up.

DAVID (pleadingly): Answer the question.
(SCOTT looks at DAVID for a moment, vulnerable before him. At that moment, he seems as though he'd burst if he could only give DAVID the answers he's looking for. But, the moment passes. He shakes his head, and walks back over to the bed, by the suitcase. Gently, but decisively, he lifts the lid.)
SCOTT: I have answered the question.
(DAVID stands, mute. The gulf between them is suddenly huge. He walks over to SCOTT, stops, looks at him. SCOTT looks back. With a swift and sudden motion, DAVID grabs the bottle back. He strides to the doorway, turning around for dramatic effect, chin high and proud. He points at SCOTT.)
DAVID: I'll calm down when I feel like calming down.
(With a flourish, he turns and leaves the room. Offstage we hear a sound: the bottle smashing. SCOTT has stood motionless throughout this final exchange. He turns slowly to the suitcase, reaches inside, and picks up the book. He looks at it for a moment, and then puts it back in the suitcase. He picks up a sweater and folds it. He continues to pack as the lights go down.)

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