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TOAST

Jason Dark has every reason to end it all.  His latest play, Last Moments, has just been rejected, his mother is the Nursing Home Ho, he hasn’t slept in a bed since his father tried to smother him, nor has he been able to make love successfully with his therapist fiance.  But a bolt of lightning changes all that!  Will love prevail or will they all be toast? (5M 4F)

The setting is the porch at Happy Valley Nursing Home. It’s a sultry August morning. Thunder can be heard in the background. Jason, a short thin man in his early forties is wheeling his eighty year old mother over to the overhang.

 JASON

I’ve decided to kill myself!

MA

We all want to fulfill ourselves, son. I

JASON

Read my lips, Ma! Dead man walking!

MA

I love talking, too. Especially to you. I don’t know what I’d do if anything were to happen to you. Probably kill myself.

JASON

Get out of the wheelchair!

MA

Sure, I can push you for a while. How’s the writing going?

JASON

Terrible! Last Moments just got rejected, Again!

MA

If your father were here he’d be slapping you on the back and telling you it’s always darkest before the dawning.

JASON

Ma! If Dad was here he’d be stabbing me in the back and telling me to say my prayers.

MA

Jason, why are you such a pessimist?

JASON

Could it be because Dad died in prison? After he tried to smother me in the crib?

MA

Never mind all that. Last Moments. Which one is that?

JASON

The musical tragedy about the Inuit girl adopted by a white middle class family. If you can push me off these stairs, I should have enough momentum to reach the ravine.

MA

Why tragedy? Doesn’t she lead her class at Harvard Medical School and discover a cure for anthrax?

JASON

Ma, she was removed from her culture! I thought the play was right up their alley  Original.. An oppressed minority voice.   Maybe it was all the throat singing.

MA

Don’t forget, when I croak you have a nice inheritance coming your way!

JASON

Not if I was to die before you. C’mon. push!

MA

Not if you were to die before me.

JASON

Didn’t I just say that? Push!

MA

You don’t get it.

JASON

Of course I don’t! How could I when I’m dead?

MA

If you were to die before me. You still don’t get it.

JASON

Isn’t that what you just finished telling me? Just one little shove!

MA

Jason, it’s a point of grammar. You should say “If I were to die” It’s called the subjunctive mood.. Involving wishes.

JASON

Really? Then I wish you would push me off these stairs!

MA

Then I’d still be here. But with a broken heart.

JASON

You win. Get back in the chair.

She smiles

Say, are those your teeth? They’re kind of sliding around in there.

MA

Oh it’s probably Helga. Sometimes she gathers up all the false teeth on the night stands and then redistributes them.

JASON

Can’t they put her in the Nursing Home section? She’s obviously a few bicuspids short of a crown.

MA

Jason, Helga works here. Could you put my hearing aid in, son? Oh my, that’s better. When I hear your voice my spirits soar. Speaking of which, did you hear the one about the Irishman, the American and the Canadian in darkest Africa?

JASON

Isn’t “dark” in this context a little pejorative?

MA

Anyway they get captured by this tribe of head hunters.

JASON

Well that does give the natives some credit, although the passive construction undermines it somewhat.

MA

So the Chief, she says to them, “Traditionally we eat your brains, drink your blood, and then use your skins for our canoes.”

JASON

So the Chief’s a woman? That’s refreshing.

MA

But she’s topless. Whatever a man can do, she does too.

JASON

Hence the stereotypical interest in mealtime and domestic transportation. And tanning.

MA

Chief says “But I’m going to let you take the easy way out”, and on the table in front of them, she lays out a gun, a knife, and a fork.

JASON

The Chief sounds educated.

MA

She graduated from Oxford. Anthropology and Home Economics She’s actually appalled at all this, but realizes how important a role tradition plays in tribal societies.

JASON

It’s so difficult to overcome cultural norms.

MA

So the American grabs the pistol, blows his brains out , and as he is dying says, “Ha, at least you won’t be able to eat my brain!

JASON

Wouldn’t he be dead already?

MA

The Canadian grabs the knife, slits his throat and says: “Ha Ha! At least you won’t be able to drink my blood”, and bleeds to death.

JASON

Why didn’t he just pick up the revolver and shoot himself?

MA

It only had one bullet, OK?. The Irishman grabs the fork-

JASON

Why…?

MA

The knife was dull! OK? And forks himself all over his body breaking the skin repeatedly.

JASON

Well at least they couldn’t use his body to make their canoe.

There is a silence

MA

Good for you, son. You guessed the punch line. Listen, Jason, with a little twist, your…..idea might help you get Last Moments produced.

JASON

I picked it up from that old movie you gave me at Xmas

MA

Yes, “Kiss of Death “with Richard Widmark! He pushes the old lady in the wheelchair to her death down a flight of stairs. You forget I ushered at the Roxy as a young woman.

JASON

See? You had a career, a future, and I ruined it for you. By being born. Push me first!

MA

No, son! That would be unnatural, to have your son go first! My affairs are in order, let me go! They haven’t made any good movies since “The Killers”, anyway. Burt Lancaster was in that. What a body! Push me!

JASON

Don’t talk like that. Ma. Money can’t make me happy.

MA

Well why don’t you let it twist your arm?

JASON

Look Ma, let’s forget it, OK? It’s going to pour.

Thunder

 MA

OK, son. What a beautiful day!

Thunder, lightning

JASON

They’re calling for a torrential downpour. This place could get swept away. Not that that would be a bad thing. Compared to this joint, the Bates Motel was a spa!

Sound of thunder

Maybe we should go back inside. The lightning is kinda scary.

MA

It’s just a little sprinkle. Good for the flowers. You forget: the chair has rubber tires. Besides, I want to feel the rain.

JASON

Just to the edge then.

MA

Oh all right. Hold my hand.

JASON

Ma. How am I supposed to push this thing and hold your……..

There is a crack of thunder, a huge flash of lightning and JASON is thrown to the ground. Smoke issues from the tires in the wheelchair. There is a moment of silence then enter JEAN in a nurses uniform running to the wheelchair. She trips over JASON’s inert body and goes sprawling. She regroups gets up, and makes it over to MA. MA is unconscious.

JEAN

Mrs. Dark! Mrs. Dark! Oh my God!

She takes her pulse .and wheels MA into the Home. Meanwhile JASON is still unconscious. JEAN comes running back, assesses the situation and on her haunches, immediately starts mouth to mouth.

 JEAN

In between puffs

C’mon breathe, damn it!

Jason starts to twitch and slowly comes to

JASON

Where am I?

JEAN

So people actually say that!

JASON

Say what?

JEAN

I said “C’mon breathe damn it” when I was giving you mouth to mouth.

JASON

You were giving me mouth to mouth?

JEAN

Talk about your movie cliché.

JASON

Boy, the cat was really on the roof that time!

JEAN

Here, let me take your pulse. What were you saying?

JASON

It’s a joke: A woman goes away on vacation, leaving her husband and

son behind.

JEAN

Why?

JASON

Why what?

JEAN

Why did she leave her husband and son behind?

JASON

I don’t know. It’s a joke.

JEAN

Oh.

JASON

So she calls her son up as soon as she reaches Florida.

JEAN

Why doesn’t she want to talk to her husband?

JASON

She suspected him of trying to murder her son! Ever since he was a

baby.

JEAN

That’s terrible. You know, your pulse quickened when you said that.

JASON

So she says to her son “How are things?”

JEAN

I’m surprised she would stay with her husband. Of course she was probably being abused too. Women like that are afraid to leave.

JASON

And her son says Ma, the cat died.

JEAN

You never told me they had a cat!.

JASON

Well they did! Anyway, mother says, “ Son you almost gave me a heart attack”

JEAN

Was that what he was trying to do?

JASON

No!   Pause   So the mother says, “son, the next time you have bad news for me, you must break it to me gently” You see, she had a heart condition.

JEAN

I’m not surprised with all the male violence in that house!

JASON

She says ”What you should have said is “the cat is stuck on the roof” then when we talk tomorrow you would say, “ the cat looks like he is going to jump”. And the day after that you tell me, “I’m sorry, but the cat jumped and broke his neck”. That way I would be prepared for the cat’s death.

JEAN

You know, I think that is very sensible advice.

JASON

So the mother says , ”Do you have any other news for me son?” And the son replies: “Dad is on the roof.” Pause

JEAN

Why was the Dad on the roof? Was he chasing the cat?

JASON

Don’t you get it? Her husband had died and the son was trying to break it to her gently!

JEAN

But wouldn’t she be happy that her abusive husband was dead?

JASON

What?

JEAN

Then the cycle of abuse would have been broken.

JASON

God. How did we get here?

JEAN

Do you suppose her husband killed the cat? Studies show that quite often men who abuse their wives abuse family pets also.

JASON

No! Fortunately the cat was hit by lightning.

JEAN

Like you.

JASON

What?

JEAN

You were hit by lightning. Just now. Right here.

JASON

I was?

JEAN

You were out cold.

JASON

That’s why you were kissing me!

JEAN

I was not kissing you! That was oral resuscitation.

JASON

Call it what you will. Pause If you don’t mind me saying so, you seem a little shaky with regard to men.

JEAN

Given the present patriarchy what do you expect?

JASON

Oh, you took Women’s Studies at University. We have something in common!

Jane:

You did too?

JASON

On a purely informal basis. I can still remember many of the women I studied

Remembering

Oh my God, my mother!

JEAN

She’s inside.

JASON

Is she…….??

JEAN

Yes, she’s a vegetarian. You should know that, of all people.

JASON

Is she all right?

JEAN

She’s unconscious, but her vital signs are good. Better than yours actually.

JASON

Thank God.

JEAN

I wouldn’t be thanking Her just yet. You’re still in shock. You could have a relapse any minute.

JASON

I don’t want to die! Look Ma! Top of the world!

JEAN

What?

JASON

Oh, that’s just something James Cagney says before he kills himself at the end of “Little Caesar.” Or was that Edward G Robinson? In “Public Enemy ”?

JEAN

How would you ever come to know that?

JASON

My God you’re right. I’ve never seen “Little Caesar” At least I don’t think I have.

JEAN

Well who has?

JASON

My mother. Pause How did you know I was in shock?

JEAN

You were babbling. Some story about a man on a roof.

JASON

My God! That was a joke!. I told a joke!

JEAN

Well it wasn’t very funny. A man died.

JASON

I never tell jokes.

JEAN

And so did a cat.

JASON

I haven’t told a joke in years.

JEAN

Your mother told the same story last week. Only she was much funnier.

JASON

My mother told that story?

JEAN

Last week. I mean I don’t see the point. Unless you are amused by dead household pets. But Mr. Bright? He was in stitches!

JASON

Mr Bright.

JEAN

Literally. He fell right out of your mother’s bed. Bang. Five stitches in the head.

JASON

Bang?

JEAN

Bang! You should have seen him writhing around. Then he falls out of bed.

JASON

My mother sleeps with men?

JEAN

Look, the sun’s coming out.

JASON

My mother sleeps with the men in here?

JEAN

Every night. He’s not the first.

JASON

He’s not?

JEAN

He’s the fifth.

JASON

The fifth.

JEAN

Or maybe it’s the sixth she’s sent to the infirmary. I’ve lost track. She’s been sleeping with Buck for a long time now. Ever since he came here.

JASON

My mother sleeps with a man named “Buck”?

JEAN

He’s a centenarian.

JASON

She’s a Catholic. It’s not going to work!

JEAN

He’s a hundred years old!

JASON

And that’s another reason. Pause My mother sleeps with a hundred year old man named Buck?

JEAN

Buck Bright. He’s a white man, not that it matters, but you see , for some reason he believes that he is black.

JASON

Cut him some slack! He’s a hundred years old!

JEAN

Anyway, I’m fond of your mother.

JASON

Apparently you’re not alone.

JEAN

She’s so happy here.

JASON

Wouldn’t you be if some hundred year old man was curling your toes? Pause OK, maybe not.

JEAN

Curling my toes?

JASON

It’s an expression, OK?

JEAN

My toes are perfectly straight.

JASON

Distracted Like the rest of you.

JEAN

Except the second one.

JASON

And she told that very joke last week?

JEAN

That story? She tells it all the time. And it never fails to send some man to the infirmary.

JASON

Never fails. So is that why you didn’t laugh? You’ve heard that joke a million times?

JEAN

No. But what I’m telling you seems all new to you.

JASON

I’m afraid I don’t visit Ma very often. I’m a very successful playwright. But my therapist tells me I should avoid depressing situations. She almost fell out of rug when I told her I was coming here.

JEAN

Fell out of rug?

JASON

It’s an expression. Like “fell out of bed”.

JEAN

Why don’t you just say ”fell out of bed”?

JASON

Well, I don’t sleep in a bed. I sleep in a rug. Carpet!

JEAN

What? All rolled up?

JASON

OK, on a rug.

JEAN

Why on earth do you sleep on a rug instead of in a bed?

JASON

If you don’t mind, I’d rather not tell you.

JEAN

Oh, you men with your intimacy issues!

JASON

It has to do with when I was a little baby. Something happened. It left me a little claustrophobic.

OK?

JEAN

What happened?

JASON

My father.

JEAN

What? He tucked you in a little bit too tight?

JASON

He tried to smother me to death. In my crib.  Died in prison.

JEAN

Oh, you poor baby!

JASON

I think that’s why I haven’t grown to be as tall as most men. I’m trying to conserve space.

JEAN

It’s quite understandable.

There is a silence

You are sleeping with your therapist? Don’t you think it’s little unprofessional of her?

JASON

Oh we never have sex. I’m too depressed!

JEAN

Neither have I. I’m too repressed. And me a nurse. Go figure!

 

JASON

I don’t think we are missing that much, to be honest. That’s what I tell Val.

JEAN

Your therapist is named Dr. Val? Is she on TV?

JASON

You would like her. She’s so. ……Of course. Oh my God!

JEAN

What is it?

JASON

I’m my mother!

JEAN

Your mother is resting in the infirmary.

JASON

No! Don’t you see? The jokes, the movie references. That’s my mother. That’s not me. I’m clinically depressed, but I never felt better in my life.

JEAN

Make up your mind!

JASON

She was holding my hand when the lightning struck us. Somehow her personality got transferred into me.

JEAN

Sounds like an improvement.

 

JASON

But nature abhors a vacuum.

JEAN

Who doesn’t? Noisy things!

JASON

Don’t you see? If I got hers, then she got mine in return! Mine. She’s now an eighty year old depressive in a depressing environment.! Tell me: are there any sharp objects in the infirmary?

JEAN

Just scalpels.

JASON

God, no!

He faints. Jean picks him up and carries him into the Home.

 

ACT ONE SCENE TWO.

The scene is the interior of the Infirmary. We see a large poster for The Last Gasp Foundation on the wall. Upstage, there are three beds facing us. In the first bed, up left, is BUCK, lying on his back, asleep. In the bed up right is the form of a person, Mr. HELLER, encased in a body cast, with holes for eyes and nose. An IV drip is suspended above him, and a catheter below him. He remains motionless and soundless. He is hooked up to some kind of machine that makes random beeps. Sitting at a table is Dr. FORBES, a stocky man with a mustache and wire glasses. He sports a cultured English accent and the white coat of a physician. Sitting across from him is the CHIEF of Police, a large overweight man, about the same age as FORBES. Deafening crack of thunder and lightning bolt.

 CHIEF

Boy, that was a close one! Pouring out there! Woulda got here sooner but the copter crashed. We were hit by lightning, evacuating some plain clothes officers from a golf course. But we’ll get another one!

FORBES

Helicopter?

CHIEF

Two hundred thousand smackers. Luckily we will be able to raise the money on our upcoming Community Crime Telethon. Everybody who contributes gets an “I support the Police” sticker for their car.

FORBES

Does the helicopter reduce crime?

CHIEF

What do you think? We used it mostly to nail speeders. Except for the ones with stickers. People liked to see it up there. Made ‘em feel good. And the boys loved to drive it. If it took just one more officer off the street, then I felt I’d done my job. Can’t stay long. Got to get me down to the elementary school. Talk to the grade twos. Gonna show them a milk carton and tell the story of how little Jimmy got stole away from his mother and was never seen again. Then we’ll take their fingerprints.

FORBES

What have they been doing? Stealing library books?

CHIEF

No, no. I explain to them that we need their prints for when they get stolen from their mommies and we have to identify their beaten little bodies.

FORBES

Doesn’t that frighten them?

CHIEF

That is the whole point! Do you think we tell them that the chances of them getting abducted are about the same as somebody being struck by lightning? Most abductions are the product of custody battles.

FORBES

I didn’t know that.CHIEF

You can’t start too young. These kids don’t watch those crime shows. They’re watching that Dora the Explorer. We got to take their childhood away and get them thinking crime, just like their parents. Of course getting the parents to go along with the fingerprinting and all is a breeze.

 

FORBES

Of course.

CHIEF

You know, during my administration, not one donut shop has ever been robbed.

FORBES

Fancy that. So you solve most of your crimes?

CHIEF

Are you kidding? Hell if we didn’t have the Snitch Line, we wouldn’t solve any.

FORBES

Yes, people phone in about a crime and get a reward, immunity and anonymity if they help solve it.

CHIEF

Winks So they think! Hell they usually tell us who did it! Those ex cons are a jealous bunch.

FORBES

But still, you play your part.

CHIEF

Well, having Call Display helps. That way we get the informant as well. Then they squeal on each other. Can’t reward a felon so we put the reward into the Officer’s Benevolent Fund.

FORBES

Sweet!

CHIEF

That reminds me. Somebody phoned the Snitch Line on you!

FORBES

About what?

CHIEF

Some woman called in to say that you kidnapped some feller

Heller’s machine starts to react, becoming increasingly wild.

FORBES

Some feller?

CHIEF

Named Eller

FORBES

I kidnapped a feller named Eller?   Pause Can you spell that?

CHIEF

No I can’t. But I know it starts with the first letter they show you on the eye charts.

FORBES

That’s an E. What does he look like?

CHIEF

Looking around

I don’t know. Sorta the same size as that poor chump in the plaster tuxedo.

Heller’s machine goes into overdrive

Hey, what’s going on here? I can hardly hear myself think.

Unplugs Heller

That’s better.

FORBES

What a relief! Chief why would I kidnap somebody? It makes no sense.

CHIEF

We do get a lot of nut bars phoning in, Doc. We checked it out. This guy does happen to be missing. Works for the Health Department. Checks out nursing homes.

FORBES

Well he hasn’t been around here.

CHIEF

Tell me about it. Pause Anyway, I thought I’d give you a heads up. Someone’s got it in for

you.

FORBES

But who?

CHIEF

The call came in from here.

FORBES

We don’t allow clients phones.

CHIEF

Must be an employee then.

FORBES

Yes but who?

CHIEF

Beats me. Well, gotta go see them sweet little seven- year- olds.

FORBES

I’d walk you to your car in this downpour, but I see my next appointment is arriving.

Enter VALERIE, a chic thing in her mid thirties, but drenched.

 CHIEF

Why, you’re soaked, little lady. I can see right through your blouse!

Exit CHIEF

VAL

What a moron! I came as soon as you called! Then I got in the car and drove over. Are you certain I can’t see him Dr. Forbes?

FORBES

I’m sorry, Ms. Green-

VAL

Doctor Green. I think I told you, doctor, that in addition to being Mr. Dark’s fiancée, I’m also his psychotherapist. And I’m very concerned about his mental health, much more than that job opportunity you mentioned.

FORBES

Ph.D?

VAL

U of T and of course MD

FORBES

MD?

VAL

‘03.

FORBES

PhD and MD at U of T in ‘03? We must have been classmates. Tell me, why did you specialize in Psychiatry?

At this point, enter Helga, a voluptuous Swede dressed in the classic French maid’s outfit complete with garter belt stockings and stilettos. She is wheeling a tray with a feather duster, massage oil and towels

VAL

To make a quick-

HELGA

Buck!

VAL

-start on my career.  The other reason, of course was the sacred-

HELGA

Buck!

VAL

-duty of caring for the mentally fragile.

HELGA

Time for rubby-dubby!

FORBES

What is it Helga?

HELGA

Buck sleep. No peep.

FORBES

We’re trying to have a conversation here.

HELGA

Mrs Dark still in dark?

FORBES

Still in a coma, yes.

HELGA

Mr Dark has mark.

FORBES

From where he was hit by the lightning. I know all about it.

HELGA

We need ark!

FORBES

Yes, it’s a bad storm. Now leave us be!

HELGA

No rubby-dubby for you!

She exits hissing at VAL.

FORBES

You’ll have to excuse Helga. A simple soul.

VAL

Where on earth did you get her? She’s right out of “Night Shift Nurses Three”

FORBES

How did you know that?

VAL

What is she, your sex therapist?

FORBES

From time to time. Of course we only remit minimum wage to her, given her particular circumstances.   Everyone’s on minimum wage here. So there’s no jealousy.

VAL

Even the registered nurses?

FORBES

If I put you in a white uniform, wouldn’t you look like a nurse? And pretty soon you would feel like one too. And could an outsider tell the difference?

VAL

But what about inspection?

FORBES

There aren’t enough inspectors to form their own basketball team. Slaughterhouses get inspected more often than we do. Say, have you ever thought of geriatric psychiatry?

VAL

Coldly I’m perfectly normal and I’m not that old.

FORBES

I mean as a career.

VAL

Can you make a living at it?

FORBES

Can you? Do you realize that two thirds of all the health budget is spent on people in the last third of their lives?

VAL

Well, forget psychotherapy. For them the only therapy is pharmatherapy!

FORBES

That’s why I own a pharmacy right on the premises.. Most inmates have at least a half dozen prescriptions. It takes forever to sort out the drug interactions. We gave up trying long ago.

VAL

Well at least their lives are manageable. For you.

FORBES

But I disagree with you about group therapy. I charge for group every day.

VAL

How can you? Those people are zombies.

FORBES

Allow me.

Addresses BUCK and HELLER

Alright you two! Therapy time! Mr Bright? Would you like to discuss why you act like a stereotypical black man from a Shirley Temple film, even though you are obviously Caucasian? Now, now, faking sleep isn’t the way to break through, is it? Very well. As you wish. Now Mr. Heller, would you like to talk about your deep seated feelings of claustrophobia?

Heller frantically beeps and flashes

 No? Let’s try again tomorrow. Remember. We can’t help you unless you help yourself. And I just helped myself to two hundred bucks. That’s talk therapy.

VAL

Good, you bill to the closest hour. Does anyone ever speak?

FORBES

Not words you would recognize, no. That’s over medication for you. But the opportunity is there. And the families feel good, knowing that we haven’t given up on their loved ones. And many of our other “nurses” had medical experiences in their home countries. Often other than child birth. But we don’t have a staff psychotherapist.

VAL

But what would I do?   Most of your clients in the nursing home seem so …….

FORBES

Peaceful? They also tend to be good for fifteen hundred to two thousand a month until the end of their lives. Did I mention that at Happy Valley we believe in the quantity of life? We are so tight with the Catholic Church.

VAL

But what difference does it make if they live a long life or not? There’s always someone to replace the deceased client.

FORBES

Yes, but that someone is an unknown quantity, isn’t he? He has to be trained. His drugs have to be all worked out to achieve the utmost in serenity. Remember: the more serene you are, the less room you take up. Our long living units take up the least amount of storage. And the least amount of trouble.

VAL

What about the Mummy over there? He’s taking up more than his share of room I would say. So’s the lily-white guy. What’s his story?

FORBES

Buck is among our richer clientele. They stay in this, the residents’ wing.

VAL

That man is rich?

FORBES

A millionaire. With a sizable estate. Which he has at our urging, turned over to the Last Gasp Foundation should he pass away.

VAL

The Last Gasp Foundation. Is that the poster? reading. “Make a Senior’s life-long dream come true. Send him or her to Coaster World in Florida. After eighty, it’s time to coast!”

FORBES

Seen our ads?. People love the shot of the senile riding the “Big Enchilada” at Coaster World. You wouldn’t believe the donations. There’s a lot of guilt out there. We rake in a million dollars a month easily.

VAL

You make that much?

FORBES

Of course not. I’m only the President of the Foundation.. I make half that amount. The rest goes to advertising, mostly. Well, there’s the air ambulances to take the senior to Orlando airport. And the off duty ambulance rentals to get to the park. But that’s only once or twice a year. Not that many seniors want to ride a roller coaster in Florida.

VAL

The look on their faces in some of those close up shots!

FORBES

There’s something else. I have recently learned that there is a traitor in our midst. I want you to employ your deep knowledge of the human psyche to ferret her out and then dispose of her. Are you up for it?

 VAL

Of course I am, I’m a psychopath!

FORBES

No, you’re just a sociopath. I’m a psychopath!

VAL

But look how far I’ve come in my profession!

FORBES

Look how much money I make!

Together

We’re both psychopaths!

There is a silence

VAL

So Buck is going to Florida?

FORBES

To experience the G forces that you will swear to be so necessary to his mental health.

VAL

Won’t that kill him?

FORBES

When the Buck passes the money stops here.

VAL

He’ll leave his estate to the Foundation?

FORBES

As will Mrs. Dark , but it looks like the coma will finish her off.

VAL

Does she have…

FORBES

Much of an estate? A half a mill and she willed it all to the Foundation!

VAL

She did not.

FORBES

Did too. I could show you the will. Drawn up a year ago.

VAL

Well I could show you a will drawn up a month ago. Where she leaves it all to her son!

FORBES

I don’t believe it.

VAL

I witnessed it. I was there.

FORBES

Unless you were blind, of course you did.

VAL

No. Legally I was the witness. I signed it.

FORBES

So the new will is legal?

VAL

Perfectly.

FORBES

But why?

VAL

Because I signed it! I just explained that to you!

FORBES

But why did she change her will?

VAL

Oh. Pause   Because she thought that the prospect of inheriting her entire fortune would cheer Jason up.

FORBES

I see.

VAL

It didn’t though. He started to obsess that she would kill herself just to make him rich. He was actually hinting that he would preempt her by killing himself first. He was half my income. Pause What am I saying? He’s not dead yet.

FORBES

No, he’s rooming with Mom in our ICU in some kind of coma too. If he should die before his mother…..

VAL

But you wouldn’t…

FORBES

Wouldn’t what?

VAL

Don’t do it. It’s too risky!

FORBES

Do what?

VAL

The risky thing.

FORBES

What, forge a new will? Too risky. IRS watch us like hawks when it comes to wills. They have to be videotaped to demonstrate that the person is of sound mind. That’s costly to get around. The special effects, the animatronics. The occasional ventriloquist. It all adds up.

VAL

And too risky?

FORBES

Way too risky. Let’s just go inside and turn his machine off.

They get up just as Jason comes skipping in the door

JASON

Hello everyone I’m back! Val, what are you doing here? Isn’t it a beautiful day?

There is a rumble of thunder in the background, and a lightning flash

Curtain

 

ACT TWO, SCENE ONE

It’s twenty-four hours later. The scene is again the interior of the Infirmary. In the first bed, up left, is BUCK, lying with his hands behind his head on a pillow, with a huge gold chain around his neck. He is engaged in animated conversation with JASON, UC, who is in a similar position. Jason has given up his all-black outfit for some outlandishly colourful clothing he might have scrounged from a man with dementia. In the bed up right is MR. HELLER..

BUCK

So you Miz Dark’s little boy. My O My! Say, how yo’ mother doing?

JASON

Oh, she’s going to be fine, trust me.

BUCK

But ain’t she fighting for her life?

JASON

Dr Forbes is doing everything in his power to keep her alive. He told me himself.

BUCK

He good at that! I hope she make it.

JASON

I bet you do! You rascal! You fell out of her bed! That hurt?

BUCK

Taint supposed to hurt. Spozed to be powerful good. And she is! Yassuh! Make me glad to be alive. And that’s a fact! It hurt, you ain’t doin’ it right!

JASON

No, the stitches. Do they hurt?

BUCK

Lawdy no! Dey just gives me a powerful itch! Starts to giggle

JASON

You know, I don’t want to be offensive, but you talk like old time black men were supposed to talk. Though I don’t think they ever did.

BUCK

They sho nuff did on the radio. ‘Member Amos ‘n’ Andy? Rochester on Jack Benny?

JASON

But those films! Stepin Fetchit? Ever catch his act?

BUCK

Never did.

JASON

Made a lot of films in the thirties. Coined the phrase “Feets don’ fail me now!”

BUCK

“Feets don’ fail me now!”. I like that. Say, you know a tolerable lot about ol’ time movies for such a young buck!

JASON

Yeah, second hand. Pause But you must have seen them the first time.

BUCK

Never did. Gots black blood. Couldn’t get in to no movie show.

JASON

Well you do have a nice tan….but you seem pretty white to me. Apart from your vocal stylings of course. When I close my eyes, you remind me a little of that old black guy in those Shirley Temple movies. Bill Robinson.

BUCK

Mr. Bojangles

JASON

That’s right, the dancer. You know, I’d just be careful talking that way around actual black people. They are likely to be offended by it.

BUCK

Sho’ nuff Boss!

JASON

Turns to Heller He just doesn’t get it. And are you black too?

Heller’s machine gives off some excited beeping

BUCK

He ain’t black!

JASON

How do you know? Have you ever seen him without the body cast?

BUCK

What you sayin’ brother?

JASON

Hey, don’t get excited! I’m just asking a question.

BUCK

No brother put up with dat. Day in. Day out.

JASON

Who is he? To Heller Who are you? More excited beeps

BUCK

He Mistah Heller, that’s all I knows. Ain’t no heller no more! Giggles He don’t say nothin’ to nobody!

JASON

I was like that once. A complete recluse. But what’s he got to be depressed about?

BUCK

You crazy? The man’s all swallowed up in concrete. Fool!

JASON

He’s got a little problem. But no problem is so great that we cannot solve it.

Buck

You got a jack hammer?

JASON

Listen, I’m just saying that we and our perceptions are our own worst enemies. He perceives he’s enmeshed in a body cast and he withdraws into himself. It’s a self esteem issue.

BUCK

He don’ perceive. He plain is! He better off dead!

JASON

Buck, and I want to call you Buck, if that’s all right with you. Buck, he just needs to empower himself. You just don’t ever write yourself off. And nobody is better off dead, trust me.

BUCK

Nobody better off dead, dat right?

JASON

That’s right.

BUCK

An’ didn’ you go out in the pourin’ rain wid your mama for to get hit by lightnin? Put yo’ mama clean away!

JASON

That is so far from the truth. Boy.

BUCK

Don’t you call me “boy, honkey!

Enter Helga. Once more she is wheeling the tray with a feather duster, massage oil and towels

HELGA

OK boys! On your tummies! Massage!

She approaches MR HELLER. The machine beeps wildly. HELGA whips out the duster and gives him a thorough cleaning. Then she prances over to the others, stopping in between BUCK and JASON’s gurney. She has a squirt bottle in each hand and she squirts lotion on each back.

Lotion!

With her left hand only, she starts to slowly massage JASON’S back.

JASON

You know that’s really very good. Quite comforting. Nice circular motion. You really do a good job. I’m feeling quite relaxed and uninhibited.

HELGA Stops massaging JASON and starts massaging BUCK in the same way with her right hand.

BUCK

OH MAMMA DAT FEEL GOOD!! C’MON GIRL BRING IT!!

Helga gets into it

THAT IT WOMAN, DO IT LIKE YOU KNOW HOW!!

HELGA stops with BUCK and goes back to JASON with her left hand.

JASON

Boy, you do a good job. I’ll say this for you: You’re the consummate professional.   I know it’s cliché, but you are rubbing me the right way!

Giggles to himself. HELGA stops with JASON and recommences with BUCK.

BUCK

THASS IT GIRL, NOW WORK IT, HONEYCHILE. YEAH JUS’ LIK’ DAT, YOU DA WOMAN, HELGA HONEY.

HELGA intensifies with a hint of pelvic thrusting

LOWER, BABY, LOWER. YEAH, NOW HIGHER. YOU ALL WOMAN, BABY CAKES, YEAH YEAH YEAH ZZZZZZZZZZZZ

BUCK has fallen asleep and begins to snore. HELGA sighs and continues to work on Jason

HELGA

Buck like rubby-dub.

Enter JEAN in her nurse’s uniform

 JEAN

Am I interrupting something?

JASON

Jean! It’s so good to see you. I’d like you to meet Helga. She’s my masseuse.

JEAN

I know what she is. We would like some privacy, Helga.   Could you take Buck outside?

HELGA stalks off, wheeling the snoring BUCK.

JEAN

That’s better.

JASON

Did you come to fluff up my pillow?

JEAN

I came to have a talk with you!

JASON

You sound angry. Is that jealousy I also hear?

JEAN

Of that tramp? That will be the day! Pause You know, it’s not like me to be critical of those in the sex trade. Especially an immigrant. What other work is there for them?

JASON

Maybe you’re in love!

JEAN

I’ve never been attracted to women. Jason, will you get your head on straight?   Your mother is teetering between life and death, the Doctor and your fiancé are plotting together. The police have been here, and you are blathering on about love?

JASON

I can’t help it. I love you. I loved you when I first met you. When you went sprawling over my inert body. But my body isn’t inert now. It’s ert, baby!

JEAN

Ert?

JASON

Bring it on honey child. Like only you are able.   To. You are an entire woman, baby cakes.

JEAN

Jason! You are an engaged man. Snap out of it!

She slaps his face

JASON

Thanks, Jean, I needed that. Perhaps you should perforate me with a fork while you are at it.

JEAN

Jason I’m sorry, but I’m scared. The Doctor frightens me the way he is talking with Valerie. And here you are relaxing!

JASON

It’s OK Jean. I have to stay here. I’m still under observation. Doctor’s orders. And don’t worry about Ma. She’ll pull through.

JEAN

Oh Jason, tell me everything is going to be all right.

She embraces him

I know I’m conforming to gender stereotype, but I feel so dis-empowered.

JASON

There, there, let me do the worrying for both of us.

JEAN

But that’s just it. You don’t seem worried at all.

We hear the sound of voices as Forbes and the Chief enter

 JEAN

Someone’s coming . You pretend to be asleep. Maybe you can learn something. I’ll go check on your mother!

Enter CHIEF and FORBES.

 CHIEF

Wait until I tell you about our huge break-through in the Snitch Line case! You won’t believe it! After you.

FORBES

No you go first, Chief. I learned never to turn my back on you when we were in gym class together.

CHIEF

The secret is to make sure the towel is wet when you snap it. Boy those were the days. High School.

FORBES

Couldn’t graduate fast enough. What a horror show!  Now about that breakthrough.

CHIEF

That’s because you were such a little dweeb back then, Doc.

FORBES

Yeah.  And you were an all-star athlete.  Now what did you find out?

CHIEF

And you were president of the Library Club. Remember you used to sneak me those National Geographics they wouldn’t let us read?

FORBES

The ones about the cannibalistic tribes in Africa with the female chiefs?   Oh yeah.

CHIEF and FORBES

Topless!!

CHIEF

No wonder they wouldn’t let us read them. I remember one issue where this cannibal tribe liked to perforate the skins of their victims with forks and use them as shower heads!

FORBES

You’re joking.  You know I wanted to go into policing but my marks were too high.

CHIEF

Too bad. All these years after high school I’m making big bucks. And to think my Guidance Counselor wanted me to go back to school and get my grade ten.

Shakes his head

And here you are. How are you doing?

FORBES

Did you say you had news about the snitch?

CHIEF

I’m due for a big raise too. Crime pays.

FORBES

Really. What did you find out about her?

CHIEF

You know it’s a “can’t lose” profession. You ought to consider it. I don’t know how you stand it with all these elderly out here. And on that pittance of a salary.  It’s time to stop being a martyr.

FORBES

I know, Chief. I tell myself that every night. So can you give me a name?

CHIEF

I don’t know how you do it. I would be totally depressed.

Enter HELGA, returning a still somnolent Buck on the Gurney to his rightful spot. Heller’s machine goes wild.   She then exits stage right.

FORBES

Unplugging HELLER

It has its compensations. Pause What do you mean “It’s a “can’t lose Profession”?

CHIEF

First of all you have to use statistics.

FORBES

Statistics.

CHIEF

Yeah, to count the crime. Take this, for instance. He gooses FORBES

FORBES

Hey!

CHIEF

You know what that was?

FORBES

A painful flashback to high school.

CHIEF

It was sexual assault.

FORBES

No kidding?

CHIEF

I could pinch your bum…

FORBES

No thanks.

CHIEF

And that would be sexual assault also. The way you looked at that young lady a minute ago?

FORBES

Helga?

CHIEF

She could charge you with harassment.

FORBES

All those things can count as crime and be used as statistics?

CHIEF

Not count as crime. They are crime.

FORBES

Of course.

CHIEF

Sometimes in the Department? We’ll be having a bad month.

FORBES

Too much crime?

CHIEF

Not enough.  That’s the beauty of it, when the crime rate is too high, you get more money to fight crime. And when the crime rate goes down, you get a performance bonus.

FORBES

You’ve got a goldmine! So about the Snitch-

CHIEF

-I just wish people were having more sex.

FORBES

So you could charge them?

CHIEF

No, you see, the larger the proportion of young people in the population, the higher the crime rate. I mean real crime, like murders. Stuff I never get to see. But people are watching all these crime shows on television. Studies show that the more TV you watch, the worse you think the crime situation is.

FORBES

For you, that’s good!

CHIEF

No that’s bad! Because those people are watching crime on TV instead of having sex, and producing young criminals. You know, until recently, I had no idea how much pornography there is on line.

FORBES

That’s bad!

CHIEF

No, that’s good! You want couples to watch porn, and breed like rabbits! We need those babies!

FORBES

Problem is the general public prefers to watch violence and death. It’s a sick world out there. Now. The Snitch Line. Any names?

CHIEF

No But we got it narrowed down to two of your female employees.

FORBES

We only have Helga and Jean!

CHIEF

Don’t worry Doc. We’ll identify the whistle-blower. Gotta idea! Let’s find Helga. and frisk her!

EXIT FORBES and CHIEF

Jason sits bolt upright. He slides off the Gurney, runs over to Heller, and turns his machine on. Nothing.

JASON

Mr. Heller! Mr Heller! Talk to me ! Start breathing!

Frantic, Jason checks his pulse, but it’s useless through the plaster. He then tries to give him mouth to mouth through the little hole. Finally the lights go on and the machine starts to hum.

Thank God!

Enter Valerie with a briefcase.

VAL

What are you doing?

JASON

Val – Thank goodness you’re here. There’s a guy in there, fighting for his life!!

VAL

Your mother is fighting for her life.   That’s just a plaster model the staff practice on. Dr. Forbes told me.

JASON

Really? And to think I was trying to give it mouth to mouth. That’s kind of funny isn’t it?

VAL

It shows how unwell you still are. Pause Jason! You are lying in a bed!

JASON

Isn’t it wonderful?

VAL

You said you couldn’t. You said it all went back to lying in your crib when your father tried to murder you.

JASON

I’m a changed man. Pause Do you have any lip balm? That plaster really chafes.

VAL

That’s nothing compared to rug burn. Well. Let’s just see. She goes into the briefcase What have we here? She brings out a straight razor

JASON

What’s that?

VAL

It’s a straight razor silly. I thought you might need a shave. I’ll put it right here next to you in case you need it in the middle of the night. Let’s see, lip balm, .lip balm… oh here’s something!

She brings out an ice pick

JASON

Is that an ice pick?

VAL

You might need it. It’s so hot in here.

She rummages some more and brings out a container of pills

There we are, some sleeping pills.

JASON

Reading the label

“Take a handful with a glass of vodka before retiring”.

VAL

Why don’t you take them right now? Pulls out a bottle of vodka Here we go.

JASON

But I slept like a baby last night. In my very own bed.

VAL

Come on, that’s my little Butter Bum!

JASON

Honey, your little Butter Bum isn’t really sleepy weepy yet. Maybe later.

VAL

Sighs Alright

Back into the briefcase, she hauls out a piece of hangman’s rope with a noose

JASON

What’s that for?

VAL

That’s going to enhance our lovemaking. You want to try it out?

JASON

Val, we have to talk.

Valerie puts the briefcase away and pulls up a chair beside Jason’s bed

Listen I have something to confess to you.

VAL

So do I. I slept with Dr. Forbes last night.

JASON

You did?

VAL

Look, no rug burns. We did it all night. He was insatiable. Four times, Jason. And that was before we got our clothes off. Then twice while he was brushing his teeth. Five times while he was turning down the coverlet. I was an animal.

JASON

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

VAL

But Jason in all our lovemaking, you never accomplished that once.

JASON

I hate lay analysis.

VAL

Doesn’t that make you sad? And I, your fiancee, betrayed you. Doesn’t that make you angry? I just hope you don’t direct that anger inward as you have in the past.

JASON

Val, Val. Val. There’s nothing for me to be angry or sad about. It just confirms what I have always suspected. You are a sex addict. So you are not responsible for your behaviour.

VAL

I’m not?

JASON

Of course not. Are drug addicts responsible for their behaviour? No. They want to be different, but they can’t. The addiction is too strong. That’s why nobody can quit smoking.

VAL

You quit smoking.

JASON

Or quit drinking.

VAL

You quit drinking.

JASON

Or quit having sex.

VAL

You quit having sex.

JASON

But I was a depressive. That made it easy to quit. I didn’t want any pleasure in my life. That’s why I hooked up with you.

VAL

Pardon?

JASON

So you could treat me. But I said “was”. I’m cured. You did it darling! I was feeling guilty, but your confession has freed me of that.

VAL

I did? You don’t feel sad any more? Have suicidal thoughts?

JASON

Nope.

VAL

You don’t have to pretend with me Jason. Look at the state the world is in. If I weren’t such a coward I’d kill myself. Look, how about a suicide pact. You go first then me. Like in Romeo and Juliet.

JASON

Val, the world is getting better all the time.

VAL

Drought and starvation!

JASON

Longer life span!

VAL

Ebola!

JASON

Antibiotics!

VAL

Old age!.

JASON

Viagra!

VAL

Professional wrestling!

JASON

Baseball!

VAL

Materialism!

JASON

Love! Pause You see, for every bad thing you can name, I can name a good thing. You know it’s dawned on me: We all want a perfect world. But if the world were perfect, what good could we do? There would be nothing to struggle against or to struggle for.

VAL

Yes, life is a struggle. Isn’t that depressing?

JASON

Val, can you imagine a perfect world where nobody dies? It would be as boring as hell. We all need to die.

VAL

Some of us more than others! But don’t you find death depressing? Doesn’t it make you want to end it all?

JASON

We are all going to die Val, it just means we better get hopping and do some good in the world. While we can!

VAL

I can’t believe I’m talking to the same person.   But there is one last test. Lie down on your bed.

JASON

No, Val. I can’t. Not with you. I’ve met someone else!

VAL

Not that tramp, Helga!

JASON

It’s not Helga.

VAL

Then whom?

JASON

“Who!”.

VAL

Quit stalling. Whom are you sleeping with?

JASON

That’s better. See, “whom” is the object of the preposition “with”. But your big mistake is to assume I’m sleeping with her, not to mention ending your sentence with the preposition “with”. That’s something up with which I will not put! That’s a grammar joke.

VAL

Since when did you become a grammar expert?

JASON

I’m not. Of course my mother harps on it all the time. Pause Oh my God! More proof!

VAL

Out with it. Who is she?

JASON

She’s the nurse here. Her name is Jean.

VAL

Her? That little mouseburger?

JASON

Would you rather it were Helga?

VAL

“It was Helga”

JASON

I just told you it was Jean.

VAL

You said “it were Helga” you should of said “Would you rather it was Helga” There is only one Helga. Thank God.

JASON

Oh you silly. “Were” is not the plural. It’s the subjunctive mood signifying wishes and desires.

VAL

I didn’t know that.

JASON

And you should talk. Or maybe you shouldn’t. Do you realize you said “should of said”, instead of “should have said”? If you don’t mind me saying so you have some real grammar issues. As a playwright, you don’t know what that does to my ears.

VAL

Grammar is just a bunch of arbitrary linguistic arrangements designed to make playwrights feel superior and avoid the important things in life, like your little mouseburger!

JASON

She’s a warm loving woman. If anything ever happened to her I’d kill myself. Pause What?

VAL

Do you mean that? Lay down on the bed.

JASON

Don’t you mean “lie down on the bed”?

VAL

Down! Pause It’s just little test dear.

Jason

Lies down on the bed

I’ll humour you.

VAL

Flips up the protective barriers on both sides, preventing Jason from falling out

What does this remind you of, Jason?

JASON

Nothing. It doesn’t remind me of a crib, if that’s what you’re getting at.

VAL

Doesn’t it?   It’s pretty coffining if you ask me.

JASON

“Coffining”?

VAL

Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say “coffining”.

JASON

Stop.

VAL

That sounds too much like “coffin”.

JASON

Please stop.

VAL

What I meant to say was “confining”.

JASON

No!

VAL

As in nowhere to go.

JASON

No .No!

VAL

Like that night your father came for you!

JASON

Aieeee! Aieee! Aieee!

His whole body starts to twitch uncontrollably, like an electrified worm. Then suddenly he lapses into unconsciousness.

 

Curtain

 

 

ACT TWO SCENE TWO

 

We are back on the deck of Happy Valley. It’s a half an hour later. Thunder and Lightning. Valerie and Forbes flank Jason lying in his Gurney with the sides up.

 

FORBES

Shouldn’t we tie him down?

VAL

Trust me . As his analyst I can assure you: He’s paralyzed with fright. He’s not going anywhere.

JASON

You’ll never get away with this! You will fry!

FORBES

Actually, I think you will. We simply connect this wire from the flagpole to the metal of your bed and wait for Mother Nature to play her part.

JASON

Haven’t you heard? Lightning never strikes twice in the same place!

VAL

It doesn’t have to Jason. Anywhere between the pole and this bed and you’re toast!

JASON

Toast?

FORBES

Burnt toast, if you will.

JASON

That could take all afternoon.

VAL

It’s supposed to storm all afternoon. The perfect accident, after we unhook the connections.

She gives Forbes a steamy kiss

JASON

I’d be crazy to be out here in this .

VAL

No, Jason. You would have to be suicidal. And your history is well known. I’ll be testifying at the inquest.

A blast of thunder and lightning

FORBES

Damn, that would probably have got him. Hook him up!

Valerie attaches the wire. Enter Helga in her maid outfit, pushing a wheelchair with Jean tied in.

Over here, Helga.

Helga plants the wheelchair next to Jason’s Gurney and exits.

JASON

Jean! They got you too!

FORBES

I’m going to miss you Jean. You will be hard to replace. But I’m afraid your relationship with Mr. Dark here has doomed you. Not to mention the Snitch Line.

VAL

We’re going to find out how grilled mouseburger smells.

FORBES

Make sure her chair is touching the bed.

JEAN

Jason! I’m scared!

JASON

Don’t worry darling. If they are waiting for lightning to strike close enough to do any damage, they don’t know much about the laws of probability.

Another blast and lightning flash

You look marvelous in that light.

JEAN

Oh Jason, I just want to tell you that if we ever get out of this mess, I want you to be my husband, even if you are a man. I want to make a home for you and have your baby!

VAL

Then I’d advise you to invest in the best underpadding you can get for your broadloom.

Enter Helga, pushing Buck on his Gurney

FORBES

Park him right next to Jean, Helga, and make sure he’s touching her chair. That’s it.

BUCK

What’s up?

FORBES

Oh, nothing you need to worry about, home boy. We’re just going to put a few volts through that lily white body of yours.

BUCK

What about the Big Enchilada.?

FORBES

I expect it will be broiled like the rest of you.

JASON

I think he means the coaster at Coaster World.

FORBES

I knew that. Sorry Buck, no can do. But don’t worry, you should get quite a rush out of this!

JASON

Buck! You aren’t talking that way now. What’s up with that, brother?

BUCK

Well, when you were talking about Mr. Heller encased in his concrete and withdrawing from the world, I realized that I’ve been encasing myself in my blackness. You know part of it was your Momma’s fault. She liked it when I would talk to her especially black like. Especially when we….you know, got together.

Thunder, lightning. Enter Helga, pushing Ma in a wheelchair

JASON

Ma!

VAL

Don’t bother Jason, she’s still in a coma. Right next to Buck. That’s it.

Exit Helga

JEAN

You’re inhuman, both of you, even Valerie.

VAL

We’re just trying to see if we can shock her out of it, that’s all! You, know, I didn’t know that evilness could be so much fun!

JASON

Val, technically there’s no such word as “evilness”. The word is evil.

VAL

There’s no such word as “Lightningboltosis”, either, Grammar Boy, but you are going to be suffering from it shortly. And I do mean shortly!

Thunder, lightning. Enter Helga, pushing Mr. Heller attached to the machine, beeping frantically

JASON

How could you? If you want to kill him, why not just unplug his machine? Have you no decency?

VAL

We need him for the symmetry. Right there Helga next to Mrs. Dark. Now, clean up the contacts..

During the following conversation, Helga sets to dusting everyone off.

You see, when this is all over and the bodies are removed, we are going to have a piece of fabulous sculpture for our foyer!

JASON

Do you think the police are stupid?

There is a silence

What are they going to think when they see us like this?

FORBES

Oh, it won’t be quite like this! Ever roast marshmallows?

VAL

You were so depressed, you wanted your new girlfriend Jean to go with you, and your mother of course, and you felt sorry for Mr. Heller.

JASON

What about Buck? Why him? He’s in great shape.

FORBES

Well, of course, you wanted Daddy to go with you..

JASON

Daddy?

VAL

Oops.

BUCK

Doc, you promised not to say anything until the time was right!

FORBES

Sorry Buck, it slipped out. But what better time is there than this?

JASON

He’s my father? You are my father?

BUCK

It’s the truth. Hope to die!

Huge crash of thunder. Ma is roused from her coma

JEAN

Jason. Look! Your mother.! She’s coming out of it!

JASON

Ma!

MA

Son!

JASON

Why didn’t you tell me that Buck was my father?

MA

I was sleeping with him wasn’t I? Do you think I would sleep with just anyone?

Pause

OK, maybe at first.

JASON

To Buck

Dad? Why did you try to smother me?

MA

I just made that up, son.

JASON

He didn’t try to kill me?

BUCK

Why would I go and do that? Son.

MA

Your father left us because he was ashamed of himself. He gambled on some baseball game and everywhere he went people would remind him. He couldn’t stand the thought of you growing up and finding out your Daddy was an original Black Sox.

JASON

You bet against your own team in the 1919 World Series?

BUCK

See, I told you!

To Jason

We was acquitted in court.

MA

Were”, Buck “We were acquitted in court”

BUCK

You weren’t there.

MA

It’s a point of grammar. “We were” not ‘We was”

BUCK

Well we was. Pause I took money from gamblers, but I didn’t do anything to throw the game. So they took after me. I hid out in the Negro leagues. Took that money, invested it in the Market, got out before the Crash, bought a team of my own, and the rest is history.   Married your Ma when I was sixty. That’s forty years and gone now.

MA

Your father always sent us money son. He’s a rich man, did you know that? I wrote him when I came here. And you know what? That old black magic was still there.

FORBES

Yes, well, I’m glad it worked out for you. Just spare me the octogenarian details.

JEAN

That is so ageist!

VAL

You two aren’t going to be rich much longer. Time to say goodbye!

JASON

Ma, how do you feel?

MA

I feel good.

JASON

I do too! You know what that means?

FORBES

Well, I’m thrilled that every one is feeling fine. It’s a great way to go out. But I’m afraid that feeling is soon to be short-lived.

Thunder, lightning

JASON

Don’t you get it? We both feel good!

VAL

So?

JASON

It means, Ma and I didn’t switch personalities after all. It means I’m a changed man. To Jean And you’re the one who changed me! I love you!

JEAN

I love you, Jason!

Everyone embraces everyone else

Helga, come over here and join in!

HELGA’S DUSTER:

Agent Prentice, we’re closing in!

FORBES

What’s that?

VAL

It’s coming from the duster! Grabs it There’s a microphone in there! She’s wired!

FORBES

Grabs Helga, pats her down. .Lovingly

There’s something in her stocking top. Look. A gun, a badge and some cuffs. She’s FBI!

VAL

Cuff her to the Gurney. I want to see her squirm!

FORBES

Me too! Pause I’ve seen those cuffs before. I just thought…..well, never mind what I thought.

Thunder lightning

HELGA

Why don’t you give up, Forbes?

FORBES

She speaks English. She’s not Swedish!

HELGA

Of course not, you fool. Special Agent Helga Ann Prentice. We’ve been watching you since you claimed you were a vet and scammed Medicaid.

VAL

Veterans deserve Medicaid!

HELGA

Not veteran. Veterinarian! Claimed very time he treated an animal.

FORBES

I can explain that. Pause I so wanted you to be Swedish!

HELGA

With a name like Helga? Get real!

FORBES

I know, but secretly I hoped you had been born near the German border. Swedish promiscuity married to German discipline.

HELGA

There is no German border in Sweden, you fool! The only German border I’ve ever been near was at my mother’s rooming house! But that’s history.

VAL

You are going to be history, you pseudo Swedish trollop!

FORBES

But what about Night Shift Nurses Three? You were soooo convincing!

HELGA

Helped you buy my Swedish sexpot imitation, didn’t it?

FORBES

That was an act?

HELGA

As if any woman in this day and age would want to be some man’s sex toy.

MA

It’s not so bad.

VAL

Not at all!

HELGA

Give up now. The Chief is on the way. Even as we speak.

VAL

Too late. Oh Forbsie I have the most delicious feeling. The hair on my neck is starting to stand up. Just like last night! Oh God!

FORBES

You know what that means folks? Say your prayers because your lightning bolt is on the way!

There is a tremendous crack of thunder and flash of lightning, with accompanying smoke. We see Forbes and Valerie flat on the ground unconscious.

JEAN

It missed us!

JASON

It hit them!

Enter the CHIEF with a walkie talkie and gun

 CHIEF

Helga! Thank God you’re OK!

JASON

Climbing off the Gurney

We are OK too, Chief!

 CHIEF

Freeing Helga

Yeah. Untie the others. I’ll let Jose out.

JASON

Jose?

He starts freeing the others

CHIEF

Lifts up top of the body cast on Heller to reveal him, mummy style

All right?

HELLER

OK

CHIEF

All right.

Puts lid back down

Helga, get him inside and cut him out of there. Senor Jose Wences, ladies and gentleman, Special Agent extraordinaire!

Forbes and Valerie have come to.

FORBES

But how?

CHIEF

You made it easy for me Forbes, underestimating me. I knew that Snitch Line thing would flush you out. You see, I went back to school. Picked up an MA in criminology. So let’s go. The new copter’s over there. And don’t talk to the pilot. It’s his maiden voyage and he’s late for his city council meeting!

Exit Valerie Forbes and Chief. Ma and Buck are in a deep private conversation.

JASON

I can’t believe I climbed out of that crib myself!

JEAN

Oh, darling you’re cured! But now what?

BUCK

I’ll tell you what. I’m giving you two a wedding present!

MA

Buck’s decided to buy Happy Valley and we want you and Jason to run it. Properly. You don’t have to decide now. Buck and I have some important business pending. In my room. Come, my little Superfly!

BUCK

OK Scarlet!

They exit hand in hand

JASON

Well, what do you think?

Jean gives him a long steamy kiss.

 JEAN

Jason, would you marry me? And don’t worry. That lightning bolt didn’t affect me in the least.

JASON

Would I!

JEAN

Would I? That reminds me of a joke. This guy wants to take this girl to a dance, but he has a wooden eye, see…….

They walk offstage arm in arm

 

CURTAIN

 

 

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