Margaret and Benton Face a Decision

A Play in Four Scenes

 

Dramatis Personae: (In order of appearance)

 

Inspector Margaret Thatcher RCMP

Constable Benton Fraser RCMP

Voiceover of Sergeant Robert Fraser RCMP

Dr. Tryitonforsize (abbreviated as Dr. T)

 

********************************

 

Scene One.

 

(Margaretís office in season two. She is in it alone. She wears a business suit. As the scene opens she is pacing, showing signs of nervousness, fidgeting. She picks up her telephone receiver and puts it back down, a few times. Finally she keeps it and punches in four digits.)

 

Margaret: Fraser. (She waits a beat.) Report to my office immediately.

 

(She waits another beat and then hangs up. While she is waiting for Benton to arrive she goes behind her desk and sits down, then gets up and stands in front of her desk, then goes back. She is unsure what position to be in and tries out several while waiting.)

 

(Enter Benton, while she happens to be behind the desk and standing. He stands before her desk at attention. He is wearing the uniform of Jeanís choice, since this is her fic, after all.)

 

Benton: Sir.

 

Margaret: (After more pausing and fidgeting.) Do you believe in God?

 

Benton: Sir, you must be aware that as my employer, you are not allowed to ask me that.

 

Margaret: (Additional signs of nervousness. Then, impatiently) Would you sit down, please.

 

Benton: You ARE allowed to ask me that. (He sits in the visitor chair in front of her desk.) If you really do want to talk about God, sir . . .

 

Margaret: This is personal. Donít call me Ďsirí.

 

Benton: When you called me in here you said ĎFraserí.

 

Margaret: Iím a little upset. Um, I know we havenít been going out since we got back from Kingston. I guess youíre wondering about that. I appreciate it a lot that you havenít been pressing me on it.

 

Benton: I canít help but wonder what this has to do with God.

 

Margaret: The thing is . . . I donít know how to say this. I never thought Iíd ever have to say anything like this. I . . . Itís a simple thing to say but . . .

 

Benton: (Crushed) You donít want to see me anymore. I know I didnít . . . perform . . . to your . . . expectations.

 

Margaret: Oh no! Benton, no! Thatís not it. You see. (Takes a deep breath, steels herself for the big pronouncement.) Iím pregnant.

 

(Benton jumps out of his chair with a shout of sudden joy. He goes around her desk and grabs her in his arms for a kiss. Stops suddenly and dashes to close her office door then goes back. When he takes hold of her a second time she pushes him gently away.)

 

Margaret: No, wait.

 

Benton: I love you so much. And now weíre going to be a family. Oh, Margaret! (reaches for her again and she pushes him off again.)

 

Margaret: Just hold on a minute.

 

Benton: Everything Iíve ever wanted and Iím getting it all at once!

 

Margaret: Damn it, will you just shut up a minute?

 

(Benton does so, lets her go and waits.)

 

Margaret: Just, sit back down, okay. Let me tell this.

 

(Benton sits back down.)

 

Margaret: You know when we were making love, I never asked you to take any precautions. Didnít you wonder why?

 

Benton: I thought I knew why.

 

Margaret: Really? What did you think?

 

Benton: (Sadly) Whatever I thought, it was wrong. (Sighs heavily)

 

Margaret; Iím on The Pill. Iím not supposed to get pregnant. So how can you explain it, if itís not Ė I donít know Ė divine intervention or something?

 

Benton: Manufacturing defect in the product. Itís rare, though.

 

Margaret: (verge of tears, desperately) I wasnít planning this!

 

Benton: (Slowly, choosing his words carefully) But, now that it has happened maybe you might consider . . .

 

Margaret: Consider?

 

Benton: Marrying me. Raising our child together. Itís not exactly unheard of, Margaret.

 

Margaret: Itís not what I planned!

 

Benton: (At a loss) Uh hunh.

 

Margaret: I donít know what Iím going to do.

 

Benton: You? What YOU are going to do? This involves me.

 

Margaret: Well, of course youíre involved but Iím the one that has to decide if Iím going to go through with having a baby. Thatís a huge undertaking. And a physical strain. I used to think maybe Iíd like to have a child some day. Adopt one.

 

Benton: The, um, traditional way hadnít occurred to you at all, apparently.

 

Margaret: Donít be flip. Canít you see how bad this is?

 

Benton: (Very serious.) Not really, no. If it were your decision alone, letís just assume that for now, what would you do?

 

Margaret: If youíre asking if Iím planning to have an abortion Ė maybe. Itís an option. I wasnít planning to have a baby at this point in my life.

 

Benton: Of course, if it were divine intervention, you might not be wise to ignore the message.

 

Margaret: You donít really believe that, do you?

 

Benton: I donít know. I was raised by missionaries. I have to consider it. Margaret, I donít want you to have an abortion. I donít want you to kill our child.

 

Margaret: Thatís easy for you to say. Youíre not the one that has to go through with a pregnancy.

 

Benton: I wish I could.

 

Margaret: Well, you canít.

 

Benton: Donít you love me? Would marrying me be so very painful?

 

Margaret: Youíre not getting this! I do love you. But I donít want to settle down. Not now. Not after Iíve worked so hard.

 

Benton: (If the director has not made him stand up by now, he stands for this line. Tersely.) Donít have an abortion.

 

Margaret: Donít order me around.

 

Benton: It would be wrong. All right, Iíll make a deal with you. Bear the child and let me have it to raise. I want you both but Iíll settle for just the child.

 

Margaret: Get out of my office. How dare you? This is my decision. Dismissed!

 

Benton: (Comes to attention and salutes) Sir!

 

(Benton wheels about and marches out. Margaret starts to cry, first softly then works herself into heavy sobs.)

 

Scene Two

 

(Bentonís apartment of seasons one and two. Benton is alone, sitting on the edge of his bed reading one of his fatherís journals. Benton is wearing whatever Jean designates Ė if anything at all.

 

Voiceover: Itís a boy. Heís fine and Carolineís fine. I canít begin to write how relieved I am. And bless good old Doctor Benton, he called the outpost right away to let me know. Weíll have to find some way to thank him, but I canít imagine how right now.

 

I have a son. Robert Junior, heís going to be. When he grows up and joins the Force theyíll call us Old Bob and Young Bob, just like Fred Tavistock and his boy. Weíll serve together, side by side. Me and my boy.



(Benton closes the book and lays it aside on the bed. Talks to himself)

 

Benton: Robert Fraser. Bob Fraser. No, sorry, Dad, but thatís just too ordinary. Rob Fraser. Robbie Fraser. (Long pause) Roberta Fraser. Bobbie Fraser. (gets up and paces.) Caroline Fraser. Carrie Fraser. (pause) Mrs. Margaret Fraser. Inspector Margaret Fraser. Not going to happen. Maybe if I offered her . . . (pause) . . . Constable Benton Thatcher. (pause) Damn.

 

Scene Three

 

(Same office as used for the psychiatrist Dr. Tung 2 fics ago, except it is Dr. T behind the desk. She is consulting some notes in a folder, then flips the folder shut, gets up and walks to the office door.)

 

Dr. T: (While opening the door) Please come in, Inspector.

 

(Margaret enters wearing a different business suit than in Scene One.)

 

Margaret: Hello. I was expecting Dr. Tung.

 

Dr. T: Called away on a family emergency at the last minute. I wasnít able to reach all the patients in time to warn them. If youíd prefer to wait and reschedule with him, thatís fine. You wonít be billed for today.

 

Margaret: Iím here. I guess Iíll stay. Maybe the perspective of another woman would be good. Sure, Iíll stay.

 

Dr. T: I apologize for this but the receptionist is off sick . . .

 

Margaret: Yes, I noticed there was no one outside.

 

Dr. T: And I could only call one patient at a time. You walked in while . . .

 

Margaret: Please, itís fine. I donít mind.

 

Dr. T: Okay, well, have a seat then.

 

(Margaret sits in the patientís chair she sat in 2 fics ago.)

 

Margaret: Iím a little embarrassed about what happened the last time I was here. I sort of walked out on Dr. Tung in the middle of the session. I guess he wrote something about that in the file.

 

Dr. T: Something. But the important thing is: how can I help you today?

 

Margaret: I just feel like I want to explain about last time. But heís not here so I guess thereís no point.

 

Dr. T: Explain it anyway.

 

Margaret: I felt threatened. Thatís seems so silly now that I look back on it.

 

Dr. T: Threatened?

 

Margaret: He touched a nerve. Something came up and I wasnít ready to talk about it. Okay, I wasnít really ready to face it.

 

Dr. T: But now?

 

Margaret: Iím pregnant and Iím trying to decide what to do about it.

 

Dr. T: Not planned then?

 

Margaret: Iím on The Pill! Not planned is putting it mildly, Doctor!

 

Dr. T: Then how did it happen?

 

Margaret: Youíre supposed to be a doctor. You should know how it happened.

 

Dr. T: I mean, had you been taking the pills regularly?

 

Margaret: If you mean did I deliberately shoot myself in the foot, no. I canít begin to think of an explanation except maybe God was responsible. But, thatís been done, right? (She chuckles nervously.)

 

Dr. T: You are sure, though Ė medically Ė that you are pregnant. Youíve been tested.

 

(Margaret rolls her eyes.)

 

Dr. T: I have to ask. Iím not saying it about you, specifically, but it has happened that people have been afraid to go for a pregnancy test. For a lot of reasons.

 

Margaret: Doctor, Iím stunned, confused, upset, but one thing I am not and havenít been for many years is afraid.

 

Dr. T: Ah.

 

Margaret: I need a place to talk this through. Somewhere safe. With somebody who doesnít know me and doesnít care.

 

Dr. T: Once you sat down in that chair, you became my patient. Therefore, I care.

 

Margaret: You know what I mean.

 

Dr. T: Yes. Sorry. A sore spot of my own. Never mind. Actually, it was probably a good plan to come looking for a neutral sounding board.

 

Margaret: Plan. Thatís the whole thing right there. Plan. I wasnít planning to get married and settle down.

 

Dr. T: So the father wants to get married?

 

Margaret: Oh, he canít think of anything else. Old-fashioned, you know. Itís nice, in a way. But, itís just too much all at once. I have my career going on a certain track. And then thereís the issue of my mother. Benton doesnít even know about her. I was telling Dr. Tung that Iím sort of responsible for my mother. She doesnít live with me right now. Sheís back in Toronto. Sheís still able to live on her own but I donít know for how much longer. So thatís something else I have to deal with. There would be her, and him, and the new baby and my career Ė all on my head.

 

Dr. T: How do you think he would react if you told him about your mother?

 

Margaret: Benton? Heíd probably insist we take her into our home. Itís the whole family thing with him. Canít blame him, really. He lost his mother when he was a little boy and his father died last year. Heís an only child. Heís been lonely.

 

Dr. T: Well, thatís something anyway. You said Ďourí home.

 

Margaret : Meaning?

 

Dr. T : You said if you got married youíd have ďall that on your headĒ.

 

Margaret: Thatís what I said, yes.

 

Dr. T: YOUR head.

 

Margaret: I donít follow.

 

Dr. T: An aging mother, a husband, a new baby, a career, all on YOUR head to deal with. Alone.

 

Margaret: Your point?

 

Dr. T: Well, there are different kinds of marriages. Sometimes one partner actually does have to look after the other. Sometimes, they share responsibilities. If you got married, would this man be a burden or a partner?

 

Margaret: (very long pause while a puzzled Margaret mulls over this idea) I never thought of it that way.

 

Dr. T: You talk of this Benton as another issue you have to deal with. Is he irresponsible? Does he need your supervision? If so, you would be right in wondering whether you want to share the raising of a child with him.

 

Margaret: Heís one of the strongest, most reliable people Iíve ever met. And he wants a family so very badly.

 

Dr. T: You think heís using you for that end.

 

Margaret: God, no. He loves me. He could have any number of women. Theyíd marry him in a second.

 

Dr. T: But you see having him as a life partner as a burden, not as a help. Why would that be? You say heís responsible. You donít perceive him as someone with whom to share your problems?

 

Margaret: He wants to. Benton said he wanted a say in what I did. Whether I had an abortion, I mean. I got mad. I told him it was my choice.

 

Dr. T: Because itís your body.

 

Margaret: Exactly. I have the right to do what I want with my own body. Nobody can force me to have a child if I donít want one.

 

Dr. T: Then you donít want one.

 

Margaret: I didnít say that!

 

Dr. T: Letís go over the four available options. How do you feel about each? Weíve got: abort the pregnancy, have the child and marry the father, have the child and keep it without marrying the father, have the child and give it up for adoption.

 

Margaret: Okay, the last two are out.

 

Dr. T: Well, thatís something. Next you have to explore what you meant when you said you didnít want a child. Now? Ever?

 

Margaret: I told you Ė I never said I didnít want a child! Thatís not the issue!

 

Dr. T: What is the issue?

 

Margaret: The issue is, I didnít plan for it to be this way. Iím not ready for it at this stage. What you said about Benton before. That I perceive him as just another part of a problem I have to deal with. He said he should have a say in whether I have an abortion or not. I got mad at him for that.

 

Dr. T: Oh.

 

Margaret : I mean, itís my body after all. Nobody has the right to dictate to me whether I go through a pregnancy.

 

Dr. T: Some people would agree with you. Would Benton?

 

Margaret: Hardly. He sees it as his child. He said if I didnít want it, heíd raise it alone. See, thatís a fifth option you didnít even think of.

 

Dr. T: Would you do that?

 

Margaret: Never in a million years. If I have a baby, I have to control . . . Christ!

 

Dr. T: Control is important to you. But this pregnancy happened in spite of all your best controls.

 

Margaret: Thereís a good chance I would have wanted to marry Benton, eventually. But to have it thrown at me like this. . . I . . .

 

Dr. T: ďThereís a good chance I would have wanted to marry Benton,Ē you said. Benton would have no input in that decision. But now it is his idea to get married and start a family. He came up with the plan first, not you.

 

Margaret: Just give me a minute, all right? Just, let me wrap my head around this for a minute.

 

Dr. T: Of course.

 

Margaret: (Long pause first) Thereís an old expression: If three people tell you youíre drunk, lie down. Many more than three people have called me a control freak. Many, many more.

 

Dr. T: Donít get hung up on the term. ďControl freakĒ is negative. But control is something that is important to you.

 

Margaret: Something like that would have to go way back, wouldnít it? Well, why not delve into my childhood. Isnít that what shrinks do?

 

Dr. T: Sometimes.

 

Margaret: You see, father was . . .

 

Both characters freeze. Lights down.

 

Scene Four

 

(Bentonís office in seasons one and two. He is sitting at his desk doing paperwork. Uniform of Jeanís choice. Margaret enters. She wears yet another business suit. Upon perceiving her, Benton gets to his feet and stands behind his desk at attention.)

 

Margaret: Sit. This is personal.

 

Benton: Oh, in that case, you have to sit, too.

 

Margaret: No, Iím on my way to a meeting, but I just wanted to ask you . . .

 

Benton: I canít sit until you do. You know that, Margaret.

 

Margaret: Then stand there, if thatís what you want. I just wanted to know if you can go for dinner tonight. We have to talk. About what weíre going to do.

 

Benton: What WE are going to do?

 

Margaret: Yes. Is tonight good?

 

Benton: I . . . yes . . . tonight is fine.

 

Margaret: Well, good. When and where?

 

Benton: You decide.

 

Margaret: I donít have to decide. Why donít you decide?

 

(Benton gets walks around his desk to where she is standing. He takes hold of her two hands.)

 

Benton: You donít really mean that question do you? Why donít I decide? Do you really know so little about yourself that you can ask that?

 

Margaret: Abortion is still an option. You have to realize that.

 

Benton: We will talk about it. You and me. We. Weíll go from there.

 

End

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