I've been on hiatus while trying my hand with a novel, but now I am back to my roots. This forum needs some action! Let's wake up and write. I want to see some work. Let us help one another grow. Post something for critique and simply for a bravo or two. Here's my first little piece in 5 years. Now I want to see yours...
A short play by
Edward Crosby Wells
1M/1W, no set necessary other than a couple lawn chairs, a charcoal grill, maybe a small folding table, and a black hole about 3 feet in diameter.
SYNOPSIS: It is Labor Day. DICK and JANE—most any age—are in their backyard grilling hotdogs. They discover that a large hole has appeared overnight. They cannot see its bottom, but occasionally they hear, from deep within it, Barry Manilow singing Copacabana (At the Copa).
DICK and JANE sit in lawn chairs, staring at a large black hole (A cardboard cut-out, perhaps). Hotdogs are cooking on the grill. At the moment, they are listening for something to hit the bottom of the hole.
JANE: Do y’hear anything?
DICK: Shh! Tryin’ to listen.
JANE: Well, if you haven’t heard anything by now. . .
DICK: Nothing. Probably bottomless.
JANE: Nothing’s bottomless.
DICK: I didn’t hear it hit, that’s all I know. . .I didn’t hear it hit.
JANE: Doesn’t mean it’s bottomless.
DICK: Excuse me, I must have had a brain fart.
JANE: Don’t be a smart ass. (Throwing up her arms.) I guess we just didn’t hear it, and that’s all there is to it.
DICK: I guessed that, too. That’s all there is to it. Poor old Harry Moody’s chair.
JANE: It could have been Irene’s.
DICK: Nope. Definitely a man’s dining room chair.
JANE: Why? It could be a woman’s. It could have been hers.
DICK: Nope. It had arms. Had to have been his.
JANE: Why’s that?
DICK: That’s what I was taught. The one with arms is the man’s chair. Head of the household. Head of the table.
JANE: Wow. There ain’t nothin’ to say to that, Dick. In any case, the chair with the arms—for the head of the table—sure made a soft landing.
DICK: Yup. Like the Mars rover.
JANE: Yeah. You know, if the old man hadn’t taken a powder, his wife might never have had that breakdown.
JANE: His wife. I said, she might never have gone mental, if old Harry hadn’t gone and taken that powder.
DICK: That ol’ gal went way beyond mental.
JANE: Yeah. Kind o’.
DICK: Up and down the aisles in Walmart screaming, “. . .the landlord loves Barry Manilow…the landlord loves Barry Manilow. . .” over and over until the cops came and hauled her off. (A sudden realization.) Poor ol’ Harry.
JANE: Poor ol’ Irene.
DICK: Hey, maybe, she murdered the ol’ man. . .you know. . .went real psycho.
JANE: Don’t be silly. He took a powder. Men do that, you know. That’s a man thing. They just up and take a powder.
DICK: Some men do that, Jane. Just some men.
JANE: Okay. Some. So, until there’s a body, I choose to think the best. . .if you don’t mind. No murder. . .he just took off. . .like some men do.
DICK: Why should I mind?
JANE: You shouldn’t. (She pauses to ponder.) Dick?
JANE: It’s not right. . .throwing all their stuff into the alley like that.
DICK: No respect in this world, Jane. Not like there used to be.
JANE: There used to be? How do you know? You can remember that far back?
DICK: Ha, ha. Chuckle, chuckle.
JANE: You do know, it starts at the top.
JANE: Examples. Take ‘respect.’ You said that there ain’t no more respect in the world.
DICK: Not in our world.
JANE: Nope. Not in our world.
DICK: (Gets on his knees at the edge of the hole, listening.) You’d think we would have heard something by now.
JANE: You’d think. (Gets on her knees and leans over the hole. A pause to listen.) Wait! I hear. . .oh my gawd, it’s Barry Manilow. (She sings what she hears.) “At the Copa/Copacabana/The hottest spot north of. . .
DICK: (Cutting her off.) What’s Barry Manilow doing down our hole?
JANE: How would I know, Dick? But I know Barry Manilow and that’s Barry Manilow.
DICK: (Leaning farther over the hole to listen. He too hears Barry Manilow and sings what he is hearing.) “. . .Music and passion were always the fashion/At the…” Fuck a duck! It’s him. It’s Barry Manilow.
JANE: Singing in our hole.
DICK: (Still listening.) He stopped.
JANE: Guess he got tired.
DICK: Yup. What do you s’pose it was that made this hole?
JANE: And how did Barry Manilow get down there?
DICK: Not a clue. A mystery, isn’t it?
JANE: It sure is. Bam! Our lives are filled with mysteries.
DICK: Yup. That’s life. Mysteries.
JANE: (After a pause to think.) Dick, I’ve been giving this hole some thought. It wasn’t here when we went to bed last night, right?
DICK: Right. I can vouch for that.
JANE: Then, it must have been a meteor.
DICK: You think?
JANE: Something from space. Space junk! Lots ‘o junk up there. What goes up. . .
BOTH: (Together.) . . .Must come down.
DICK: Crash! You’d think it would’ve woke us.
JANE: Us. . .and the whole neighborhood, for that matter.
DICK: But, Barry Manilow?
JANE: Clueless, Dick. Clueless. Listen!
JANE: I heard a thump. It hit. It finally hit.
DICK: You don’t know it was the chair’s thump.
JANE: I can assume. I’m allowed. (Rises. Goes to grill.) I’m having a hotdog. What about you?
DICK: Sure. Why not. Happy Labor Day. (He raises a bottle of beer.) Cheers! Let’s hear it for the workers!
JANE: Shh! Keep your voice down. . .the neighbors.
DICK: (A loud whisper.) Here’s to the neighbors.
JANE: Had to come from space.
DICK: Yup. Unless. . .
JANE: Unless what?
DICK: Did you ever hear of a sinkhole.
JANE: Of course.
DICK: There you have it. A sinkhole.
JANE: Hmm. What about Barry Manilow? What’s he doin’ in our sinkhole?
DICK: (A pause to ponder.) Beats me. Hey. . .I got it. A meteor. . .size of a cinder block. . .came crashing down on top of Barry Manilow just as he was taking a shortcut through our backyard.
JANE: Very funny. One hotdog, or two?
DICK: Two. With everything. Maybe it was just an act of God.
JANE: What was?
DICK: The hole. Maybe it was an act of God.
JANE: What’s God got to do with it? What’s God got to do with anything?
DICK: That kind o’ talk could get you in trouble, Jane. Real trouble.
JANE: What kind o’ talk, Dick?
DICK: Questioning God.
JANE: Sometimes you’re really stupid, Dick! God’s just an excuse for not taking responsibility.
DICK: Keep your voice down. Neighbors could hear you. That’s dangerous talk, Jane.
JANE: Bull poop.
DICK: How do you explain Barry Manilow. What’s he doin’ down that hole.
JANE: I’m sure I don’t know. (After a thoughtful pause.) It’s a sinkhole. It’s definitely a sink hole. Sink holes happen all the time.
DICK: And Barry Manilow.
JANE: I don’t know. Maybe we should call the landlord.
DICK: Yeah. We don’t wanna get blamed for the hole.
JANE: Tell ‘im we just woke up and there it was. Call ‘im.
DICK: (He takes his cellphone from out his pocket and calls and waits, and waits.) Ain’t no answer.
JANE: Let it ring. He’s hard of hearing. (After a pause to listen.) I hear Barry Manilow.
DICK: So do I.
JANE: (Sings.) “At the Copa/Copacabana/The hottest spot north of. . .
DICK: He ain’t gonna answer. (He disconnects the call.)
JANE: He stopped. Barry Manilow stopped singing. (A quick realization.) Call the landlord again.
DICK: He didn’t answer, Jane.
JANE: Call ‘im! Call ‘im again!
DICK: He ain’t gonna answer, Jane. (He calls him again.)
JANE: (Sings.) At the Copa/Copacabana/The hottest spot north of. . .Oh my God! It’s the landlord. He’s down our sink hole!
I think that it is kind of comical. I don't know how long it has to be for one act. How would you time it? YOu wouldn't need much equipment or furniture for the set either. (cost effective? ) I wasn't sure about the phrasing of the Powder you used though. I'm not sure if that means gunpowder of cocaine? that part kind of lost me.
Playwrightofpromise, Thank you for your feedback. Always appreciated. It is what it is. Probably runs about 7 min.
I write these shorts as exercises and for collections. The kind of length I'd like to see more of here. Short, beginning, middle and end. To be concise is not always as simple as it appears. They are a great exercise for playwrights of promise.
If you would like to see more of them, you can buy A BAKER'S DOZEN or WAIT A MINUTE!, both by myself right here on Stageplays