(Ancient Rome. A prison cell. VALENTINE talks to BECKY through the iron door while TED, another prisoner, drinks in the opposite corner.)
BECKY: Oh, Valentine! You are my life’s true love! Why can we
not be together?
VALENTINE: Oh, Becky! I am a priest! In prison for performing secret marriages! And your father, the jailer, is scheduled to
execute me soon! (Pause.)
BECKY: It’s me, isn’t it? That’s why you keep making these excuses.
VALENTINE: Not at all!
TED (Drunk): He thinks you have some very nice qualities!
VALENTINE: Also, I have a roommate.
TED: Don’t mind me! I’m over here, counting bugs!
VALENTINE: My dearest, I am poor and my time is short. But take this as a symbol of my purest love.
(He slips a paper under the door. BECKY opens the paper and reads it.)
BECKY: What lovely sentiments! “… From your Valentine.” (Pause. She shakes the paper.) Huh …
BECKY: (Shrugs.) Nothing, it’s just —
BECKY: It’s very nice …
VALENTINE: But ... ?
BECKY: I don’t know. You couldn’t include a little something?
VALENTINE: Like what?
BECKY: (Sighs.) I have to tell you? A tennis bracelet? Flowers? Candy, at least?
VALENTINE: I’m in prison.
TED: And it’s been crazy here over the holidays!
VALENTINE: They don’t let prisoners out to shop.
BECKY (tearfully): Anytime there’s a problem, you blame your “job.”
TED (whispering): Val! Give her this!
VALENTINE: A bug?
TED (whispering): Pull the legs off, and it looks like a truffle!
VALENTINE: No! Dearest, my note is a token of my heart! Maybe one day, all people will express their affection in such honest, thrifty ways! Because
real love shouldn’t carry a dollar value! It is the priceless communion of souls!
(A Roman guard appears and opens the door.)
GUARD: Valentine, I heard your noble thoughts and was moved!
VALENTINE: So you’ve come to set me free?
GUARD: No, we’re executing you now. It’s the middle of the month, and we are SO far behind I could scream. But I will establish a holiday in your
name — one that preserves the priceless essence of love!
VALENTINE: I go to my death! But my spirit lives on, through ... what is your name, sir?
GUARD: Crassus. Crassus Commercialus.
VALENTINE: To the gallows!
(Guard leads VALENTINE off to death, as TED watches and BECKY weeps. Pause.)
TED: ... Want a truffle?