Cyrano of Burlington MA

Scene 1

A dingy motel room. Through the window, a sign reads in yellow and blue “The Full Moon Motel.” Below that, the red neon word “vacancy.” It blinks on and off every five seconds. Cyrano sits at a desk by the window. His coat hangs on a hook by the door opposite. He writes a letter with a quill pen and dips, writes, and blots with assiduous energy. He lifts his eyes occasionally to collect his thoughts. When he does this, one of two things happen. If he lifts his head when the vacancy sign is lit he returns its stare blankly with a vague memory of the fall of modern man and his solitary integrity. If the sign is not lit, the flat black night and the desk lamp allow him to see his own reflection in the window. He speaks as he writes.

CYRANO: My dear Roxane. [sees sign] I trust that you recall Tuesday’s spectacle. I can only say of it that human vanity knows no bounds. You sat above the crowd, and I was deeply moved by the glow of your hair, your robust autumnal cheeks, by every feature in perfect composition. I swore that I saw love in your eyes and I swore that it was for me. [sees reflection] But surely there was vanity in that, for you loved the spectacle and not the man, not such a man as me certainly, who looked the fool that night [sees sign] was made to look the fool, rather, by that man, that pompous ass (pardon my french) who all knew was in the wrong.

(He pauses, blots, rereads, crumples and, in one swift motion, opens the window, throws out the paper, and slams the window shut.)

My Dear Roxane. [sees reflection] How shall we measure worthiness? I haven’t a penny to my name, and thus am unworthy of you. I haven’t an aristocrat’s robes, and thus am unworthy of you. I haven’t the reign of a king or the voice of an angel, and thus am unworthy of you. But this I have: a word. The word is love . . .

(Crumples, throws out window.)

My Dear Roxane. [sees sign] We arrived in Albuquerque this morning. We play The Buccaneer tonight. I know that our music will be too sophisticated for the crowd. I only hope that they do not grow hostile. The road is dreary, the food scarce and scarcely edible. As always my spirit is lifted with the thought of you, the road that you may be traveling, the food that may be meeting your lips, and the rapture you may be feeling from a horn skillfully played. I play always for you. Always.

(Sees reflection, crumples, disposes.)

Dear Roxane. I love you so much. Love, [looks up for a while, through some five or six cycles of the sign, then the sign shuts off for good and he stares at the window for another thirty seconds. He speaks softly] Christian.

(A knock on the door. Cyrano is startled and jumps up, tries to shove his writing implements into the desk, finds that the desk has no drawers or compartments of any kind, and settles for folding the last letter and hiding it in his breast pocket.)

Yes. Come in!

(He stands primly at the window. The door opens softly and a white female face peaks in. It is Roxane.)

ROXANE: Ha! It is you, Cyrano! My dear friend.

(She approaches boldly and embraces him.)

CYRANO: Hello. What a surprise Ro-Roxane.

ROXANE (Producing a crumpled piece of paper): Look at this. And this one too. This one [referring to the first] dropped on my head just as I was arriving. I thought the sky was falling, but then I connected it to the sound of an opened and shut window above. Then I saw this other piece of paper nearby, and I made a second connection.

(She allows him to absorb the brilliance of her deduction. Then she begins to move around the room as if to evaluate its decor.)

Then I read them, of course, and found out they were letters to me. From the sky! Love letters, no less, it seems.

(She looks him in the eye.)

You wrote these. Didn’t you?


ROXANE: Of course you did. It was that window that opened and closed, I’m sure of it, and there are your means, right on the desk where you left them. And you wrote all those other letters too, and signed the name Christian. All these months.

CYRANO (His face begins to weaken): Oh, no, no. I did mail those letters, but I did so for Christian, the second horn player, who sits on my left.

ROXANE: Have I met him?

CYRANO: Yes! Of course! What do you mean have you met him? You spent the night together if I recall.

ROXANE: I did not!


ROXANE: No! But he was at the theater Tuesday, right? He insulted your nose.

CYRANO: Yes, well, I usually let him get away with it … with the boys …

ROXANE: He is quite handsome.

CYRANO: Ah-hah!

ROXANE: But you are more handsome.

CYRANO (convulsive): Handsome?! Ha!

ROXANE: Handsome!

(She grabs him by the shoulders and muscles him into place squarely before her. She smiles.)


(He looks at her painfully, weakly, then more softly. He begins out of habit to admire her beauty.)

CYRANO: I did not notice how quite so beautiful your eyes are. One of green. One of pale blue.

ROXANE: The blue one is glass.

CYRANO (thunderstruck): Glass?

ROXANE: Yeah. I poked out the original with a pencil in the eighth grade. An unfortunate writing accident, I like to say. (She chuckles.)

CYRANO (Wrenching himself free): You lie when you say that I’m handsome. This is the real me. [turning to the side, stamping his foot] My grotesque profile. Look! What say you?

ROXANE: It is true you have a long nose.

CYRANO: Oh, Lord! It’s a monster! When am I handsome, my lady? Now?

(He begins to spin on the ball of his foot, gaining momentum.)

Now? Now? Now, now, now, NOW?

ROXANE: Always! Always!

CYRANO: Never!

(He opens the window.)

Good night to you, my lady, and to your glass eye, which is the only part of you which can’t help but speak the truth.

(He jumps.)

ROXANE: No! Cyrano!

Scene 2

A hospital room. Very white, clean. Cyrano lies with both arms suspended in casts.

CYRANO: No panache in my suicide. To jump from a second story and to break the fall with my arms. I should have let my melon crush into the cement.

(Enter Roxane.)

ROXANE: Hello?

CYRANO: Hello, lady.

ROXANE: I have brought you some candy.

CYRANO: I appreciate that. You are kind.

ROXANE: Much too kind for you, I’m afraid, who would have me witness your death. I almost jumped after you. But I looked out the window and saw you crumpled in the pavement, your arms all askew and bloody. How did you manage that?

CYRANO: I can hardly imagine, but the strength of my arms, or perhaps just their simple flesh and bone, saved my cranium. It was an unjust sacrifice. It’s my head that made me jump.

ROXANE: Oh, ho, Cyrano! I suppose you’re right there.

CYRANO (finishing his thought): And my head that stuck my arms out too …

(Roxanne sits on the bed bouncily to break him from his reverie.)

ROXANE (Producing a folded piece of paper): Look at this! Another letter from my beloved Christian. It fell from your breast pocket when they put you on the stretcher–you must have been about to mail it when I arrested you in your room–and it lay with you on your way here. I was with you then, although you don’t remember. I lay a hand across your forehead and kissed your cheek. You do not remember, but I was hysterical. Anyway, when they lifted you off I saw it and grabbed it and read it immediately. I’m sorry I accused you of writing those letters, for this one is in the same hand and is not your style at all. He says simply that he loves me. Not your style at all. So I called Christian last night and asked him to go dancing with me–I knew he was too shy to ask me. I had a wonderful time, although he complained of laryngitis and would not speak…

CYRANO: He … he has been sick …

ROXANE: Oh, yeah? Well I think he was just being shy. He seemed to have plenty of energy that night, wink wink, nudge nudge.

CYRANO: Yes, well, he is … is a strong person.

ROXANE: You’re telling me! Anyway, we’re going to Paris for a couple months. We took the liberty of calling your tour off, you know.

CYRANO: I suppose that would be prudent.

ROXANE (getting up, kissing him on the cheek): You’ll write to me, won’t you?

CYRANO: I’ll never write again.

ROXANE: Stop being theatrical. Your arms will get better.

CYRANO: I’ll never think again.

ROXANE: I do have to go. Eat your candy. [stopping in the door] I do love you, Cyrano, wink wink, nudge nudge. [exit]

(He lies stiffly quiet for a long time. The tinny pulse of the hospital can be felt and heard about him.)

CYRANO: You know what? I believe her.

Published by David Hammond

David Hammond lives and dreams in Virginia with his wife, two daughters, one dog, three rats, and a multitude of insects. During the day, he makes websites. More of his writing can be found at

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