CLOSING NOTICES - 4 DRAMATIC ONE ACTS



FERRY ANGEL (Drama 2f, 1m)

by Lori Jean Sigrist

Set on the Staten Island Ferry, an angel intervenes in the life of a distraught passenger contemplating suicide.



'CLOSING NOTICES' (Drama, 2m)

A disgruntled playwright / actor holds his audience, including the  Theatre critic he hates, hostage during opening night of his one man retrospective! 



HALRYDER (drama 4m,1f)

                Based on true events, an inventor who comes up with a device which allows a car to run on tap water is confronted by the government and big oil. 



                                 TEN MORE WEDNESDAYS     (Drama, 2m, 1 f)
Alicia has a secret that is revealed after a visit from her brothers college classmate.                                                                      

                                                                                              

                                                                                              SAMPLE DIALOG

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CLOSING NOTICES

By

Joe Simonelli

 

(Based on an idea from Michael Chartier)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHARACTERS

 

 

Albert Caton  -   A Playwright/actor

 

Ethan Walker     -      A theatre Critic

 


THIS PLAY IS PERFORMED IN ONE ACT WITH NO INTERMISION

 

SETTING:     A theatre in New York city. It is Opening night of Albert  Caton’s one man show.

AT RISE:     An empty stage save for a stool center stage and a  small potted plant which sits on another smaller stool stage right.

 

 

(author’s note: The character of Ethan Walker is seated in the third row of the audience as the play starts)

The house lights go down as a recorded message reminds the audience to turn off their cell phones, take notice of the fire exits, refrain from flash photography ect. Then, with a recorded (or live) fanfare it is announced ‘Here is that well know actor and playwright in his new one man play titled  ‘Stage Door Memories’,Albert Caton!

 

(Albert enters as spot light follows him to the stool center stage)

 

ALBERT. Thank you ladies and gentleman, I’m Albert Caton and this performance is fondly titled, stage door memories. A remembrance of my life in the Theatre… Ah, show business, isn’t it great!

The smell of the grease paint, the lights, the orchestra warming up in the pit. Or in the case of tonight’s performance my stage manager Frank, doubling on piano just off stage! I tell you, this is the life. I mean you really know you’ve made it in show business when you ask for flowers on the set and get a potted plant on a stool that was purchased from the Deli across the street from the theatre. So how did I wind up where I am today? A bare stage, well practically a bare stage, in front of you nice theatre goers? I guess you would say that the acting bug got me way back in the second grade when I volunteered to sing a song in front of the class. I’ll never forget, it was Alan Sherman’s ‘Hello Mudda, Hello Father” remember that one?

Music starts and a few strains of “The rights of spring” start playing as he sings a few verses.

 

hello Mudda, hello fadda, here  I am at camp Granada, camp is very entertaining, and they say I’ll have some fun if it stops raining.”  

 

That was a great song. Sister Mary Jeneine decided she loved it and dragged me to every classroom up through the fifth grade to sing in front of the other kids. When she informed my mother of this fact my mom was flabbergasted as I hardly said two words at home. When my father heard about it he was even more amazed and being a good Italian American from Brooklyn he  decided to immediately put me to work in the family business. So he handed me a violin case and told me to get into the car….wait a minute, I know what you’re thinking, it wasn’t that kind of a family business. My old man was a musician. Had his own Wedding band in Brooklyn, the Arnie Caton Orchestra! He shortened his name for business purposes, his real moniker being Arnold Albert Catania! I inherited his middle name and the rest is history. So anyway, here I am, this seven year old kid being schlepped along to all these big Catering halls around Brooklyn and singing my one number each night. A very popular song at the time, Winchester Cathedral!

 

Can I have a few bars maestro!

 

The music starts as he sings a few bars. (he hold his nose for effect or uses a megaphone as this was the ‘Rudy Vali’ style in which the song was recorded)

 

Winchester Cathedral, your bringing me down, you stood and you watched as, my baby left town, you could have done something, but you didn’t try, you stood an you watched as, my baby walked by….           

 

The tips they threw at me! I mean, here I am, this seven year old kid and the people from the wedding are throwing singles and five dollar bills at me….not bad for the mid 1960’s! And I got to dine on prime rib and wedding cake all the time. Yeah, I think my old man was on to something with this show biz deal. And he got paid to do it to boot! I also have him to thank for a very high cholesterol level but who thought about that in nineteen sixty six.

 

Then came senior year of high school and the school play, “West Side Story’! I was cast as Riff and had the time of my life. My old man wasn’t  too thrilled because the performances  conflicted with the wedding gigs and I couldn’t be in two places at once. And I wasn’t getting paid to be performing in or writing  plays… yet.   Oh yes the playwrighting, the main thing I’m known for. You might be curious to know how that started. Well I guess I started writing shows when I was twelve years old and working as a junior counselor at summer camp. They needed someone to put on puppet shows for the younger kids so me and my friend Pete Polasky volunteered for the job. All we had was some old hand puppets, most of them based on whatever cartoon characters were popular in those days.  Our muse was an old puppet stage, a few hand puppets and our imaginations so we started writing our own scripts based on the characters at hand. Only we set them in the real domestic situations that we knew. Yogi bear was an alcoholic, Huckleberry hound was the effeminate kid from up the block.  We even threw in fake commercials long before it was popularized on Saturday Night Live.   I remember having a puppet holding  a toy house from a monopoly set and saying “You’re in good hands with All State” before dropping the house off the stage and uttering ‘oops!’

 

We started getting real popular, we even had a third kid, Billy Spooner, collecting a dime admittance fee at the door for a free show. Eventually camp management shut us down but even then I saw that show business could be a profitable venture….if the show was any good.

Of course in summer camp you didn’t have theatre critics to pan your show and shut you down.

No. The audience pretty much told you if the show was any good and kept coming back for more. Not so in the big cities. Not so when you’re a New York playwright and actor. See, to make it in New York you have put on a few small shows off -off Broadway and see if they catch on! Not easy to do, Not easy to keep a show running off-off anywhere much less the big apple. You gotta sink your life savings into the venture. Maybe your marriage breaks up cause your wife things you’re a crazy dreamer and wants you to stay home and nine to five it. You probably have to live at that theatre and wait tables at some greasy spoon in the city because you can’t afford to pay both the theatre rent and an apartment plus the alimony payments to your ex. So you sleep on the prop couch on stage and wash in the theatre restroom.  And you never give up. You keep the show going till it finds it’s audience and the word of mouth spreads. You’re doing just great. The critic from the village voice shows up and he has no choice but to love the show because he see’s how much the audience is laughing and enjoying it and who is he to buck the system. So you move it to a bigger venue off Broadway and finally it’s getting out of town runs!….

 

(He pauses and looks out into the audience)

 

yeah, the New York critics, they can make or break you in this town.  You can be a successful playwright one day, five great plays in a row, then you try to break away from the formula and write one different play. I don’t know, maybe it’s hubris, maybe it’s catharsis but you write one that’s just a little unsettling. You’re trying to provoke your audience for a change, maybe like you did with the mock commercials in the puppet shows when you were a kid.   Maybe you need to write this one for therapy, for your own sanity…and it isn’t pretty, it isn’t a laugh out loud comedy, it’s more like David Mamet meets Eugene O’Neil but it’s a tough economy out there and nobody wants to come to the theatre to be depressed and hear about all your veiled childhood issues. Not even the New York critic, who’s supposed to know better and not judge pieces for their commercial value but for their content. Like they did back in the nineteen fifties and sixties. Ah but in two thousand eleven Broadway theatre is big business! Who knows what the critic’s motivation really is? How did he get that critic’s job anyway? What qualifies him. Is he the city desk editors first cousin. Did he teach a few theatre courses at a community college? So you put this play on and it gets panned. It gets roasted. And even though you’ve had five hits in a row before that, no one cares. Nobody wants to hear it, especially big Broadway producers who only care about the bottom line. So they just keep recycling the old standard musicals from the golden days of the fifties and sixties and occasionally they’ll fashion a new musical from an old television show we all grew up with and are familiar with because after all, it’s the baby boomers who can afford to buy tickets and go to shows in New York city! I hear they are now working on the musical version of the Munsters and Machales Navy!

 You know there’s no big trick to being a Broadway producer. All it takes is money and marketing.  Hell, if they were talented enough to write the plays they would but they don’t have the talent to do that so they depend on the playwright! It’s all one codependence, the producer depends on the playwright who depends on the critic who depends on the producer or else he’d have nothing to review. But wait a minute? What happens if the critic pans a show but the people still keep coming and love the show? Is the critic held responsible for giving a hit show a bad review? Does he have to take a mea culpa in his next column? Is he called on the carpet by his editor because he’s obviously panned a show that the people love?   Does he or his paper lose any credibility? Does he get fired and his wife leaves him because he obviously screwed up on this one and the show keeps selling out? Or is it no, harm no foul because, hey, the shows still a hit so what are you complaining about?  And he just moves on to the next review? You see I’m funny that way….

 

(to director off stage)

 

HEY CAN WE TURN UP THE HOUSE LIGHTS FOR A MINUTE!

 

(as house lights come up)

 

You  see I’m funny that way and I don’t think that a critic should be able to screw up and give a bad review to a good show and have a playwrights life work and financial security go right down the goddamn drain. I think he should be held accountable for his screw ups. So a once successful playwright isn’t reduced to doing vaudevillian reminiscences of his career in front of eighty senior citizens in order to put some fucking food on the table!

 

(the house lights come down)

 

Turn those fucking house lights back up! I rented the theatre, I’m wrote the show, I’m calling the shot’s….so to speak.

 

(lights come back up as he comes down from the stage)

 

Well lookey here, look who we have in the audience tonight. Right there, third row on the aisle so he can make a quick getaway if he has to…it’s that noted New York City critic Ethan Walker.

Why Ethan, what brings you to our tiny venue way downtown here in the village. Should’nt you be up town reviewing the new F-troop musical? You see Mr. Walker didn’t like my last play very much folks. As a matter of fact it was doing just fine till he showed up that night. The crowd was enjoying it. Pretty good house every night until he showed up. No he didn’t like it very much and he said so in his newspaper column the next day. Even though the night he saw the show the audience gave the cast a standing ovation and they took three curtain calls he didn’t like it very much. So the audience’s read his column where he said I had lost it and was ‘delving into subjects’ that no one wanted to hear. …

 

(to the critic as he walks down the aisle towards him)

 

Is that about right Mr. Walker…or should I call you Ethan? Remember when we met after you loved my first show and you said, Al, just call me Ethan, no need for formality! So guess what happened after the crowds stopped showing up for my last show Ethan? Silly me, could I just pack up my tent and go home? No, not me, not stubborn old Al Caton….no I had to prove you wrong and keep that show going.   After all, I knew the audience loved it before you showed up, why should one skewed review from a jaded critic who probably had a fight with his wife that night before coming to the theatre, oh that’s right, you’re not married…although you are seen around town with an escort once in a while…well who, or whatever you had a fight with that night I wished you would have left it home and not taken it out on my poor show. Cause you know what I did Ethan, silly guy that I am, I poured every last cent I had into keeping that show running…my second wife thought I was nuts too. She divorced me over it. Ah no great loss, she was an actress, plenty more where she came from right? So here I stand, and there you sit Ethan, ready to pass judgement on me again, ready to drive the final nail into my coffin. Hey maybe it’s for the best, I can stop doing these third rate retrospectives on my foundering career and get back to some important work like writing…although you’d probably pan that too wouldn’t you?

 

(to stage manager)

 

Hey can we get a spotlight on Mr. Walker…maybe he has something to say, a statement to make in his defense…

 

(Ethan gets up to leave)

 

Where are you going Ethan, sit back down, the show’s not over yet.

 

ETHAN. It is for me.

 

 (Albert removes a pistol from his pocket and shoots it in the air)

 

ALBERT.I said sit down. I told you I was calling the shot’s tonight! ….Hey that’s pretty funny, you like that gag Ethan. You write that one down?

 

ETHAN. About the caliber of your last play.

 

ALBERT. Caliber of my last play? Oh I get it, caliber, gun, you made a joke.

 

ETHAN. Not as bad a joke as this charade of a play is. And if you think you are going to intimidate me with a prop starter’s pistol you are sadly mistaken.

 

ALBERT. Oh is that what you think this is Eth? Is that what they call you for short? Eth? Come on we’re buddies, do you think I would pull a cheap vaudeville stunt like a fake starters pistol. Keep an eye on that potted plant stage right…I’m a pretty good shot, been practicing.

 

(He moves back on stage and fires at the prop vase with flowers and it explodes –{rigged with a piece of monofilament pulled by stage manager})


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FERRY ANGEL

 

by

 

Lori Jean Sigrist

 

 

 

 

 

SETTING:  Staten Island Ferry returning to Staten Island from Manhattan

 

The following announcement takes place over the loud speaker: Welcome to the Staten Island Ferry.  Please listen carefully to the following safety announcements: During docking please stay off the stairs and ramps until the ferry comes to a full stop.  All passengers must depart the ferry after docking….( nnouncement starts to fade)

 

AT RISE:     Woman enters the deck of the Staten Island Ferry.  She is dressed in a coat with hat and scarf and carries a handbag and a manila envelope containing documents.  She looks very upset and has clearly been crying.  She is speaking on her cell phone.

 

THE WOMAN. Hi Nicole.  How are you honey?  Ah...that’s good...oh again?  Well, you know it takes them a while to get the hang of the potty chair. He’ll get the idea eventually. Yeah... He’s such a good boy.  Listen hon, I just wanted to let you know that I saw Dr. Carter today for my results….yes, I know you wanted to come with me but… (making light of situation) it wasn’t necessary.  I can’t expect you to drop everything every time I have a doctor’s appointment. (making up information as she speaks) He just wants to do some more tests. You know, if you’ve had cancer once, they just want to test you all the time.  No...No...it’s a piece of cake...nothing for you to worry about...really.  No, no...honey...you’ve got a toddler to take care of and you’re at the end of your last trimester...you know you’re supposed to be taking it easy until the baby comes.  Yes...well, I’d love to come to dinner tonight but I’m a little tired...so, yeah...maybe this weekend?….yes…(pause) I love you Nicole.  Kiss my grandson for me! 

 

 (Woman ends call and walks to the railing of the ferry.  She opens the envelope in her hand and pulls out medical report.  She begins reading it outloud to herself)

 

Stage IV with metastasis to the spine and liver.

 

 (Sighing, she puts the document back in the envelope and stares out at the water, then looks up and out as though looking to the horizon  The following dialogue is with herself. Feel free to take a number of pauses during dialogue as The Woman is rationalizing her decision. She becomes more despondent and unhappy as she speaks.)

 

Chemo again.  Radiation again.  I don’t….I don’t think I can do it. (Starts to weep again) Just to buy a little time?  What’s the point? They said the treatment would take care of it last time!  What do they know. (pause) Sick again. No hair AGAIN!  I can’t put my family through this a second time especially with Nicole having such a rough pregnancy.  She has too much on her plate as it is.  (exasperated sigh) I am so tired of this! (angrily) I’m so tired.  (Looks down at water again and then up, an idea forming.  She looks around the deck to see if anyone is around) Look at that water so chilly and gray.  It could swallow you up and make you disappear.  If I jumped in, it would take a few minutes before anyone knew...just enough time for the cold water to freeze me before they find me.  The fall and the cold will do the trick.  Or…(looks down at the water and grimaces) the bacteria will get me...for sure.  They’ll think I slipped. Do they have cameras here? (Looks around) I dropped something, I was leaning over...it was an accident. (pulls out key chain with a small picture attached)  No one would suspect anything else. They couldn’t prove anything.  Then Nicole would get the insurance money.  She and her family would be comfortable.  It’s more than I can do for them now… what good would it do watching me wither away? Watching the treatments destroy my body…(she breaks down in tears again).  I..just can’t go through it again!

 

After a beat, the Woman looks around again and then steps up to the rail and starts to lean over.  The Woman freezes in place and remains that way during the following exchange.

 

A younger woman dressed in sneakers,  beige, non-descript pants and shirt enters.  Directly behind her a man enters.  He is dressed in a dark business suit, shirt and tie.  He looks very official. He carries a clipboard and pen.

 

MR. CHAMUEL. So, you are Conscience Angel 37551, correct?

 

ANGEL 37551. Yes, Mr. Chamuel.

 

MR. CHAMUEL. And I see here you  have been the Conscience Angel for the Staten Island Ferry since...

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh, since they started sir,  in 1905.  Oh you should have seen the boats then...they were powered by steam and…

 

MR. CHAMUEL. Yes, I am aware. (flipping through the charts on his clipboard) You’ve been in this post a very long time. 

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh I have sir.  I love these boats. Back and forth. Back and forth all day and night!  I love watching the sun glisten off the buildings and the water. The moon rising at night.  And on the rainy days watching the clouds gather. Oh and it’s fun during a snowstorm when you can’t see a thing.  Watching the skyline change and then grow back...and the people!! Oh the people…!

 

MR. CHAMUEL. Yes, 37551...that’s why I’m here.  This isn’t just the usual audit.  The Office upstairs is concerned.

ANGEL 37551. Concerned sir?

 

MR. CHAMUEL. Yes, they are concerned with your record.  You are the Conscience Angel for the Ferries. You are here to help and guide the humans who ride this boat.  Help them to make good decisions.  To get into their minds and hearts and stop them from making mistakes or from hurting someone else or…

 

ANGEL 37551. No offense sir, but I do know my job!

 

MR. CHAMUEL. We have no doubt about that but you haven’t been effective in quite some time.  People are not being helped anymore.  The Office Upstairs wanted Angels on these ships because when people are sitting quietly in one place for a time, they are more likely to think about things. It’s why commuting was invented in the first place. That’s where you used to come in to help them to think about the good, not to lose hope, to be grateful, not give in to despair, not hurt their fellow man! (sighing) But it just isn’t effective anymore.

 

ANGEL 37551. Mr. Chamuel, this job has gotten so much harder over the years. In the old days people were more accepting of guidance!  Sometimes I even told them I was an angel sent to guide them.  Back then they were more willing to believe an angel would approach them.  If I tried to do that now, they’d just notify security that a crazy woman was on the ship.

 

MR. CHAMUEL. No one is disputing the fact that your job is more difficult than it used to be...

 

ANGEL 37551. And they all have these things in their ears now!  They are looking at those little boxes in their hands.  They aren’t thinking anymore...I struggle to get them to even hear me!

 

MR. CHAMUEL. That’s exactly the point.  We are thinking of transferring you.

 

ANGEL 37551. (aghast) Transferring me!?

 

MR. CHAMUEL. Yes, to a Nature Angel.  There is still a lot that can be done with nature.  It needs all the help it can get but It’s not yet a total lost cause.


ANGEL 37551. But what about the people on the ferries?!

MR. CHAMUEL. Well, as you said, they are distracted by their electronic devices.  Actually we are considering trying an app…

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh no Mr. Chamuel.  Can’t you speak to the boss?  Please! Tell him not to abandon the ferry riders. I love my job even though it’s difficult and I’ve helped a lot of people over the years!  

 

MR. CHAMUEL. Helped, and that’s the problem.  You just aren’t reaching them anymore. We think you would be a better fit as a Nature Angel.

 

ANGEL 37551. I don’t want to watch plants grow!  I want to help people!  Oh, let me try one more time sir!  (notices the woman) Look...look at this woman here (indicates the woman by the railing).  Oh, she’s in a bad way sir...a very bad way.  She’s thinking about doing...oh!  I can’t even say it.

 

MR. CHAMUEL. Yes.  She is.  But I think it’s too late.   She’s made up her mind.

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh sir.  Let me try!  

 

MR.CHAMUEL. (sighing) I don’t think that’s a good idea.

 

ANGEL 37551. Don’t tell me you are going to let her do it and not try and stop her?!!

 

MR. CHAMUEL. They were given free will for a reason 37551…

 

ANGEL 37551. And they were given a Conscience...I mean ME for a reason too, weren’t they?

 

MR. CHAMUEL. Well, yes. 

 

ANGEL 37551. Mr. Chamuel, let me try with this woman.  If I can convince her not to do...if I can convince her not to give up yet, if I can persuade her to keep on living...will you let me stay?

 

MR. CHAMUEL. (sighing) My instructions were to tell you that you were being transferred...

 

ANGEL 37551. I know sir.  I know you are just here to do your job.  I understand!  But that’s what I am asking for, a chance to do my job.  To show (motions upward) “The Big Guy” that I still have what it takes.  If I can’t change her mind. If she leaves this ferry still intending to “do it”, then I’ll go watch the daisies grow if that’s what you really want.

 

MR. CHAMUEL. They said you’d be difficult…

 

ANGEL 37551. Not difficult sir.  Committed.

 

MR. CHAMUEL. Oh all right.  You have until this boat docks.  That’s not much time.  If you can help this woman then maybe I can convince upstairs that you still have value here.  

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh thank you sir!

 

Mr. Chamuel exits shaking his head.  Angel 37551 approaches the woman by the railing.  At this point the woman comes out of frozen position and is startled by Angel 37551. She steps away from railing.

 

THE WOMAN. Oh!  

 

ANGEL 37551. Will you look at that water!!  So choppy today!  All that foam!  It looks like a milkshake!

 

THE WOMAN. What?

 

ANGEL 37551. It looks like a delicious foaming milkshake!

 

THE WOMAN. It does?

 

ANGEL 37551. You should be careful, leaning over like that.  You could accidentally fall.

 

THE WOMAN. (Sarcastically) Yes, wouldn’t that be a shame.

 

ANGEL 37551. It would be.  I mean you could get seriously hurt!  

 

THE WOMAN. Where did you come from? (looking around)  I didn’t see or hear anyone come out on this part of the deck.

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh, I’m very light on my feet...it’s like I have wings or something.

 

THE WOMAN. (annoyed that she was interrupted) Yes, well thank you miss…

 

ANGEL 37551. You know I love the view to Staten Island.

 

THE WOMAN. What?

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh I know everyone loves the Manhattan skyline, but I’ve always preferred this view. Look at the Verrazano Bridge. Staten Island is such a quirky little place, isn’t it?  All those neighborhoods.  Just when you think you’ve seen all there is to see, you turn a corner and you find a section that doesn’t look like anywhere else on the island.  

 

THE WOMAN. I suppose…

 

ANGEL 37551. You know what I like the most about Staten Island? 

 

THE WOMAN. No, what?

 

ANGEL 37551.  The families.  I know Manhattan is filled with people all rushing about, doing important things, but Staten Island is filled with family love. I mean, it’s everywhere!  Ever inhale deeply on a Sunday morning around 11 o’clock? (inhales deeply) You can smell the garlic in the sauce. All over the island it seems.  There’s love in that sauce.

 

THE WOMAN. Yes, I suppose you’re right.  We moved to Staten Island from Brooklyn, like everyone else, because we thought it was a good place to raise a family. 

 

ANGEL 37551. We?

 

THE WOMAN. My husband, Jack and I.  

 

ANGEL 37551. And you still live on Staten Island?

 

THE WOMAN. Well yes.  I mean I do and my daughter and her husband also.  Jack passed away several years ago.

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh yes,  he left for his new journey.

 

THE WOMAN. What?

 

ANGEL 37551. I mean, my condolences. Do you mind if I ask how….?

 

THE WOMAN. Massive heart attack.  Gone in an instant.

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh, how sad.

 

THE WOMAN. Yes, it was.  But it was quite some time ago now.

 

ANGEL 37551. No, I mean it’s sad that he went so quickly.  He didn’t have time to say goodbye.  To tell you all the things he wanted to tell you.


THE WOMAN. Maybe, but he didn’t suffer.  And his family wasn’t burdened with watching him slowly fade away.

ANGEL 37551. Would it have been a burden?

 

THE WOMAN. Yes. I mean no…!  I would have given anything to have had one more…

 

ANGEL 37551. One more day with him?

 

THE WOMAN. Yes. 

 

ANGEL 37551. He would have given anything too.  He loved life so much!  He was sorry to leave so quickly.  He never had a chance to tell you how much he loved being your husband.  But he’s glad that you’ve kept up the garden.

 

THE WOMAN. Excuse me?  How do you know I have a garden?

 

ANGEL 37551. Don’t you? 

 

THE WOMAN. Well...yes...Jack had the green thumb though…

 

(At this point, the woman stares out in front of her while the Angel speaks as though she is remembering all the things the Angel is speaking of.  It is as though the Angel has entered the woman’s mind and is why she doesn’t question what the Angel seems to know)

 

ANGEL 37551.  And he’s proud of how you learned how to change a tire and that you keep all his tools in the garage polished and neat because you know how careful he was with them. You could have gotten rid of them years ago but you keep them and you’ve even learned how to use some of them. (beat) He wishes he hadn’t had so much to drink on your fifth wedding anniversary and passed out in the hotel.  And he’s sorry that he said your pancakes were runny. Mostly though, he’s so pleased that you’ve been able to spend time with his grandchild.  He’s happy that you can play with him, share stories with him and through you, in a way, Jack is able to love him too.

 

THE WOMAN. (startled) What?  How do you know I have a grandchild?

 

(Angel 37551 points to picture on keychain)

 

ANGEL 37551. Is this him?

 

THE WOMAN. Yes. His name is Noah.  My daughter Nicole is expecting another.  A girl this time.

 

ANGEL 37551. How marvelous!  A granddaughter! Oh that will be wonderful for you. 

 

THE WOMAN. Yes, well...I guess so.

 

ANGEL 37551.  Think of all the things you can teach her and show her.  All the pretty clothes you can buy for her. All those hair thingys.

 

THE WOMAN. Nicole hated my fussing with her hair.  I was hoping with my granddaughter I could do a french braid again and put ribbons in…(suddenly emotional again) oh never mind.

 

ANGEL 37551.  Her first birthday, first communion… teaching her how to make that cookie recipe handed down from your mother.  Oh and her prom!

 

THE WOMAN. I may not be around for that!  I may not be around for any of that!   What difference would it make anyway?

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh it will make a huge difference!  Every day you spend with her and your grandson is a gift for them.  Children absorb everything and every moment you have with them, they will carry with them their whole lives!  They won’t even realize it, until the big moments come. When your grandson learns to ride a bike he’ll want you to watch.  Your granddaughter's first drawing will be of you and she’ll want you to hang it up on your refrigerator.   When they get their first A, they won’t be able to wait to show you.  Then when your granddaughter tries on the perfect prom dress, she’ll think “I can’t wait for my grandmother to see this dress!” 

 

THE WOMAN. I won’t be around to see that.

 

ANGEL 37551.  Maybe you will. Even if you aren’t physically there, she will remember your spirit and all the things you taught her and then you will be there.  Besides (almost whispering) you know, miracles happen every day!

 

THE WOMAN. You are a very optimistic person, aren’t you?

 

ANGEL 37551. It’s sort of my job.

 

THE WOMAN. What are you some kind of counselor or something? (notices that Angel 37551 does not have a coat on)  Wait, you don’t have a coat on! Aren’t you freezing?  Here... (removes scarf and places it around Angel 37551’s neck)

 

ANGEL 37551.   Thank you. I don’t really feel the cold, usually. But it’s a very rare thing for someone to give a stranger something to keep them warm.  How very kind of you.  You have a very kind face. I thought that right away.   I bet you do kind things all the time, don’t you?

 

THE WOMAN. Me? No. 

 

ANGEL 37551. No?  I don’t think that’s true.

 

THE WOMAN.  Well, actually since Jack died I do a lot of volunteer work with kids and disabled seniors.  I enjoy it.  It makes me feel…

 

ANGEL 37551. Valued? Needed?  Part of the world?

 

THE WOMAN. Yes.  But I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to keep it up…

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh that doesn’t matter!  You’re doing it now and you are making someone’s life better.  Every day that you make someone’s life better by visiting them or serving them soup or reading  to them, or playing Scrabble with them, you are making a small miracle!  That’s what I mean..miracles every day.  Especially with that Scrabble.

 

THE WOMAN. (laughing for the first time in this whole exchange)  You make me sound like some kind angel or something!  Next you’ll be telling me when I hear a bell ring, I’ll get wings! 

 

ANGEL 37551. (seriously) Oh no. That’s just in the movie.

 

THE WOMAN. You have such a sunny outlook on everything.  But life isn’t all sunshine you know.  There is darkness and pain.  Suffering. Illness.  Illness that never goes away. Family members who are stuck taking care of you.  Who have to suffer with you.

 

ANGEL 37551. You would have given anything for one more day with Jack right?  Don’t you think your family would want that one more day too?

 

THE WOMAN. Maybe. 

 

ANGEL 37551. They do.  They do want that day.  They want as many days as they can get.  

 

THE WOMAN. (sighing)  I wish my mother were here.  I wish I could talk to her.  I miss her.  (mostly to herself, as she looks down at the water) I thought it might be possible to arrange to see her again sooner than I originally planned...

 

ANGEL 37551. (seeing a new opening) Tell me about her.

 

THE WOMAN. She was a pistol!  Full of fight.  Full of excitement. She had a real seize the day mentality. She never seemed to get tired even though she worked and raised a family and kept a home. She loved to cook and feed people.  She loved having family around. She had tremendous faith.  Nothing could shake it.  Oh and she knew how to make fun out of nothing.  When we were kids, she could take a rainy day and turn it into a party with just some paper, glitter and music on the radio.  

 

ANGEL 37551. And?

 

THE WOMAN. She never let anything get her down for long and she never gave up. She looked at every misfortune as a challenge.  She was the most determined woman I ever knew.  I didn’t realize that until long after she had gone.

 

ANGEL 37551. Like when you were in labor 20 hours with your daughter and you could feel her spirit with you telling you to hang on. Just hang on, it won’t be much longer. You never told Jack because you thought he would say it was the painkiller...but you heard her voice loud and clear.  And you felt her with you when you held your daughter for the first time.

 

THE WOMAN. (Looks at Angel 37551 as though seeing her for the first time) What?  Yes. How did you…?

 

ANGEL 37551. Your mother sounds like an inspiring woman...what else?

 

THE WOMAN. Well, she had a million sayings.  She had sayings for everything. We used to roll our eyes when she came out with one of her sayings. We kids thought they were ridiculous at the time but now I think they were mostly true.   I remember them all today. 

 

ANGEL 37551. Did she have a favorite?

 

THE WOMAN.  She had a favorite one she used whenever one of us was having a hard time or feeling sorry for ourselves.  I’d be complaining about how something was too hard or that I was too tired and she’d lean over and look me right in the eye and say…(the following quote is said by the Woman and by Angel 37551 at the same time) “You were given this life because you were strong enough to live it.”

 

(Woman looks at Angel 37551 and the Angel smiles as the announcement that the Ferry is docking is heard over the loud -speaker)

 

ANGEL 37551. You are strong enough.  Your mother was right.

 

THE WOMAN. I’m sorry.  I have to make a phone call.  Excuse me.  (She pulls out cell phone and starts to dial)

 

(Angel smiles as she removes the scarf from her neck and returns it to the woman with a mouthed “thank you”)

 

THE WOMAN. Hi honey.  Is that dinner invitation still open?  I changed my mind.  Oh good...oh yes, I can’t wait to see his drawing. Really?  Well, maybe we can put some glitter on it!  (laughing) What?  Oh my...the doctor says that soon?   You’re not in labor now are you?  But it could be as soon as this weekend?  But everything else is OK.  Well, I guess when it’s time, it’s time!  Yes. Yes I’ll be in the room with you too if you want!  I wouldn’t miss it! (beat)  I’m glad I won’t miss it.  Ok. We’ll talk more when I get to your house and um, Nicole, I’m afraid I wasn’t actually honest with you this afternoon. I have a recurrence. Dr. Carter confirmed it today.  I’m sorry.  I just needed some time to wrap my head around it.  It threw me a bit, but I know now...I have things I want to live for.  And I’m strong enough for the fight. (a beat) I know that.  I know.  Whatever happens you’ll be there for me. We’ll be there for each other, just like always.  We’ll get through it.  Yes...yes, just like Grandma used to say.  I’m leaving the boat now and I’ll head right over.  

 

(During the end of this exchange, Mr. Chamuel enters. Angel 37551 approaches him.)

 

MR. CHAMUEL. (as he tears off a piece of paper from his clipboard and crumples it up) Carry on 37551. Carry on. (he exits)

 

Angel 37551 jumps up excitedly and then begins to exit

 

THE WOMAN. (Calls out to her) Thank you for riding with me today.  Your words...well, I don’t even know how to say it but you helped me more than you could know.  

 

ANGEL 37551. It was nice riding with you.  

 

THE WOMAN. You’re a good listener.  You must be very good at your job.

 

ANGEL 37551.   Thank you. (looking up)  From your lips to….well, never mind…

 

THE WOMAN. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.

 

ANGEL 37551. Oh.  That. (thinking for a moment and then knowingl)  Hope.  You can call me Hope.

 

THE WOMAN. Hope?  That was my mother’s name...

 

 

The woman and Angel 37551 smile at each other and freeze in place as lights fade to black

 

 

 

 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                                                          




HALRYDER

 

BY

 

Joe Simonelli

 

 

 

 

   

 


 

 

 

(This play is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to living or deceased persons is strictly coincidental)

 

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

 

Hal Ryder                           55

Steve Ryder                        55

Joe Brown                           60 – 70

Sara Handly                       30

Adrian Schwartz               50

 


ACT 1

 

SETTING: The den of Hal Ryder. There is a door                 down left that leads outside. Another door back left leads to the garage. A small round table and two chairs are down right. A shelf on wall next to the table holds three bottled waters A small couch with a coffee table and television set circa the mid seventies are center. 

 

AT RISE: Joe Brown sits at the table stage right looking at his smart phone. He is an older man dressed casually. Lights up stage right on table.

 

 

(A knock at the door)

 

JOE (still looking at the phone)

Come in Miss Handly

 

(Sara she enters wearing business attire and carrying a laptop bag )

 

SARA. Hello Mr. Brown.

 

JOE. (not getting up) Please..sit.

                                                            (She sits opposite him)

Can I offer you a bottled water?

 

SARA. No thank you.

 

JOE. What’s the matter? Not what you expected?

 

SARA. Well, not exactly.

 

JOE. Why not? I’m not dressed in a black suit wearing dark sunglasses? No trench coat? Actually I have one in my car if you’d like to see it.  But I only keep it there in case it rains.

 

SARA. Well given your credentials one does make assumptions.

 

JOE. You watch too many movies. This is what I normally wore throughout most of my career. When you work covertly for a government agency you want to be able to blend in, not stick out like a sore thumb.

 

(Sara removes her lap top and smart phone)

 

SARA. Do you mind if I record our conversation for the record.

 

JOE. You know that can’t happen. Take whatever notes you like on your lap top for the record but I can’t allow my voice to be recorded.

 

SARA. You know I could tell you I’m not recording you and easily secretly record you.

 

JOE. Yes, but we both know what would happen if I ever found out a recording surfaced.

 

SARA. Enough said. I’m a journalist but I’m not paid enough to take those kind of risks.

 

JOE. You’re taking a big risk right now just by meeting with me you know. I explained that to the liaison when we made these arrangements. I hope he made it clear to you and your editor.

 

SARA. He did and I’m aware of the risk I’m taking in that regard.

 

JOE. Fine, as long as all is understood.

 

SARA. Now Mr. Brown….

 

JOE. No need to be formal. Just call me Joe…or Fred, or Sam.

 

SARA. Of course, we’ll never know your real name.

 

JOE. I’ve had so many aliases over the years sometimes I can’t remember my given name.

 

SARA. How does one even get into this kind of  field. I mean, you don’t just walk off the football field your senior year of high school and say to yourself, hey, I think I’ll become a spy.

 

JOE. No, but sometimes you do say I’d like to become a cop or go into the military. That’s usually where people like myself are “recruited.”

 

SARA. And just what branch of the government were you affiliated with? The C.I.A.

 

JOE. I started there for a while, we all have to start somewhere. But for the majority of my career I was with a unit that had no official name and had a security clearance seven levels above the president.

 

SARA. Seven levels above the president?

 

JOE. Stop being so naïve Miss Handly. The president is a temporary government employee. Eight years at most. He’s strictly on a need to know basis.  That would be like a top brokerage firm hiring a front door receptionist and giving them access to all their top clients. Next you’re going to tell me you think there’s really a two party system in this country.

 

SARA. Even I’m beginning to see the line blur on that one.

 

JOE. Exactly. It’s now one party with common economic  interests who put on a good show to make it look like there are differences when they’re all just working for us,

 

SARA. Us being whom….The “Deep State.”

 

JOE. Call it what you like but as good a name as any.

 

SARA. I guess next you’ll be telling me about aliens on a secret base in Roswell. New Mexico,

 

JOE. (starts to laugh)

That was a good one wasn’t it? But in my opinion it’s all a bunch of crap. Now I can’t be absolutely certain because I don’t have the highest security clearance but I have been to Roswell and there’s nothing there. Nothing of an extra-terrestrial nature anyway. Think of it logically Miss Handly. An alien civilization has the superior technology to travel through space and visit us then crash lands when they get here? I guess their GPS wasn’t calibrated enough.

(laughs again)

Any news of alien sightings from the nineteen forties on was information the government wanted put out there as mis-information.  Are alien civilizations possible? Absolutely. Actuality it’s probably a certainty. They could have visited the planet millions of years ago and planted seeds that kick started all life on this planet. But if they did it would no more than you planning a tree in someone’s garden then moving on.

 

SARA. Then why would the government even want a story about aliens at Roswell in the first place.

 

JOE. To plant a false flag so that when  the technology advanced, as it has, they could send out air planes that look remarkably like flying saucers to panic the people into thinking there’s an actual Alien Invasion.

 

SARA. For what reason?

 

JOE. (he rises and starts to pace)

The same reason the ‘deep state”, as you call them, does anything. For control of the masses! They control everything. The political system, the media…. You’re young, but when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn there were three major television networks and about four local stations. That’s it. And this was New York City, the media empire.  The government controlled everything of major importance that we wanted the citizens to know. Oh not local stuff like a fire or even local politics. That was of no concern to us. But when Kennedy was assassinated do you think we released the real facts to the three major networks? Forget it. He was killed by a conglomerate including his vice president, the mafia and the CIA,. Why? Because he wanted to end the war in Vietnam, disband the C.I.A. and his brother kept picking fights with the mafia. Do you know who would have lost a ton of money if that war ended suddenly? LBJ and all his political Texan oil men cronies… Santo Trafficante was a  Mafia leader who gave a death bed confession as to his involvement in the Kennedy assassination  that no one ever reported. He wasn’t the only one. Witnesses to what really happened that day in Dallas mysteriously died even years after Kennedy was killed.

 

SARA. So what you’re saying is all this deep state stuff is caused by greed?

 

JOE. It’s what this country was founded on. A bunch of rich colonial landowners and industrialists didn’t want to pay any more taxes to the crown so they revolted. And guess what, they still don’t want to pay taxes. Even to the government of the country they formed! Do you realize that the highest tax bracket in the United states during President Eisenhower’s administration in the nineteen fifties was 90 percent? What is it now? It was Eisenhower who said “beware the military industrial complex” before he left office. Think of that Miss Handly, a former general! One of their own, sounded the warning and nobody listened. Everything is big business I’m afraid. Look at current commercials.  They trumpet a career in the military like they’re recruiting for a college campus. All rah, rah ziz boom bah. Only on a college campus people usually don’t die. The government makes military combat sound like a football game nowadays.  Oh, yeah, they pretty much want to control everything. But alas, they slipped up one thing. They were a little late to the game on it and now it’s starting to cost them and that’s why we’re here.

 

SARA. And where did they slip up?

 

JOE. The internet miss Handly. Remember their control of the media? Well as much as they tried to put the ‘genie back in the bottle’  in the nineties they just couldn’t. All the information I related to you is out there. The only thing they have going for them is that information is not easily disseminated on the internet. You have to search for the information you want. It’s not spoon fed to anyone by the media. When you do find something they can easily discredit it as a conspiracy theory. As a matter of fact they count on it. They count on you thinking that the Kennedy assignation, or Martin Luther King or yes, even aliens and any others are just a bunch of cranks getting together. That’s the government’s ace in the hole to this day. That level headed middle class citizens have enough on their plate to not care while their government continues to squeeze them with taxes and rob them blind. Do you know how close the entire world financial system came to collapse in two thousand and eight because  a few greedy wall street financiers screwed up and not one of them spent a day in jail?   Do you know what the definition of a conspiracy is Miss Handly?

 

SARA. Sure, a group of people conspire to commit something usually nefarious.

 

JOE. How big a group?

 

SARA. I don’t really know?

 

JOE.  Webster’s dictionary doesn’t mention how many people form a conspiracy. It could be as little as two people. Two lovers conspiring to kill a husband or wife to get them out of the way.  Actually, that is probably the most common. So given that fact  I would venture to say that probably ninety nine percent of conspiracies are probably true. Two people conspired to kill someone, the police find out,  prove it in court by forensics or eye witnesses and that’s that. Which brings us to one of the greatest conspiracies perpetrated on the citizenry of not just the United States, but the world, that hardly anyone knows or cares about but if they knew the real story they surely would. For it is a conspiracy of such proportion that it could have benefited man kind for generations.  But again, greed got in the way.

 

SARA. I’m all ears.

 

JOE. Let me preface the story first. Usually when there are technological break-throughs  on some product or device they come to market and replace existing technology. It’s better for everyone, right?

 

SARA. Absolutely.

 

JOE. Except when such technology might jeopardize the profits of a huge consortium of powerful industries such as transportation or oil and render them nearly irrelevant.

 

SARA. Care to expand on that?

 

JOE. Let’s put it this way. When Henry Ford invented the automobile, why didn’t all the horse and buggy manufacturers try to put him out of business? After all, didn’t his invention threaten there very livelihood?

 

SARA. I suppose they really didn’t take the automobile seriously at first. And by the time they did it was probably too late to stop it, and progress. And of course the buggy manufacturers  weren’t really one large group but probably just many small manufacturers spread across the country.

 

JOE. Very good. Now you would say the invention of the car was a good thing. People went places more often and much faster.

 

SARA. Aside from the terrible environmental footprint that cars leave I’d say that’s valid.

 

JOE. Exactly. The burning and depletion of fossil fuels. The cost to run a car when oil prices sky rocket. Kind of holds the economy hostage doesn’t it?

 

SARA. Your point being?

 

JOE. Suppose someone invented an alternate fuel source for oil that cost practically nothing and left no environmental footprint. Wouldn’t you say that would be a remarkable brake through?

 

SARA. You mean like electrical cars?

 

JOE. Close, but that’s an alternative power source, not an alternative fuel source. And how practical is it to have to spend hours re-charging your car when you can fuel up in just a few short minutes. If there’s one thing consumers don’t want, it’s inconvenience. Otherwise electric cars would have rendered fuel driven cars obsolete by now.

 

SARA. Plus the fact that you’re up against a very powerful oil consortium.

 

JOE. Exactly. The oil consortium tolerates electric cars as a way to mollify the energy critics. Make it seem like there is an alternative to their monopoly when in reality there isn’t. But what if I were to posit something to you. Something that was readily available to the public thirty years ago that the oil companies and the government squelched, Something that would have made everyone’s life easier and cost them practically nothing to fuel their automobiles.

 

SARA. The only thing that fits that description is a car that runs on water.

 

JOE. Exactly Miss Handly. A car that runs strictly on water. Any kind of water. Tap, rain, sea water.

 

SARA. Come on, if that were available we’d have it by now.

 

JOE. You think so? You think the big oil companies would let that happen? You think the government or military would jeopardize an industry that’s vital to one third of the world’s economy. You see eventually even advances in technology are governed by the law of diminishing returns. 

 

SARA. So you’re saying it is available?

 

JOE. Some say yes and some debate it. Mostly those whose best interests lie in debunking the technology. But I’m going to let you draw your own conclusions. It all started in the late nineteen seventies. Jimmy Carter was president and a thirty nine year old inventor named Hal Ryder sat in his Illinois living room with his twin brother Stephen, watching some unsettling events transpire in the den of his living room.

 

(Joe and Sara exit as lights come up on Hal and Stephen Ryder, who sit on sofa watching the television whose screen is facing upstage so only audio is heard by the audience)

 

“We interrupt your regularly scheduled program with a special bulletin. It has now been confirmed that fifty two American diplomats and citizens have been taken hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran by a group of Iranian college students belonging to the Muslim Student followers of the Imam’s Line, who support the Iranian Revolution. Many conjecture this to be in reaction to the United States granting asylum to the Shah of Iran. More details will follow as they become available. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.”

 

STEVE. (get’s up and turns off television)

Can you believe that shit Hal?

 

Hal. Not only do I believe it but I saw it coming. Ever since the Arab oil embargo. If we don’t find a viable alternative to fossil fuel the whole world economy is going to be held hostage. Or maybe you like the price of gasoline tripling over the last few years. 

 

STEVE. So how’s your work going?

 

HAL. It’s going.

 

STEVE. And you still think it’s possible? It can work?

 

HAL. Theoretically yes. According to all we know so far about thermos dynamics, not so much. You see oil is easily flammable so it burns easily in a car engine. It also depletes itself easily and since it started out as a readily available commodity it really wasn’t an issue. But as we deplete the resource the price goes up. Simple supply and demand. Now water can be burned also, actually, the hydrogen component of water, and much more efficiently than oil.

 

STEVE. But it takes more energy to break water down into it’s hydrogen component then the output that the fuel is providing.

 

HAL. Exactly, and that’s the rub. To find a cheap and efficient way to burn the hydrogen element in a closed internal combustion system.

STEVE. It would be more akin to a perpetual motion effect. Once the chemical reaction is started it keeps repeating without need for an outside fuel source.

 

HAL. In layman’s terms, that’s about it.

 

STEVE. And you think you can achieve this in your garage laboratory when the big auto manufacturers can’t?

 

HAL. That’s just it Stevey. They’re not even trying. You think they want to cut their own economic throats? Think of the pressure the big oil companies exert..

 

STEVE. I guess they do have a vested interest in not making cars that run on water.

 

HAL. Imagine what can be achieved if I can make this happen. Not only would the expense of fueling your car be  almost non-existent but think of how the cost of food and other consumer goods would come down because now it would cost almost nothing to ship them by truck!

 

STEVE. Or airplane or anything else that uses fossil fuel. Sure is a nice thought.

 

HA. Come on, I’ll show what I’ve got so far.

 

STEVE. Let’s take a look.

 

(Hal and Steve exit through garage door as Joe and Sara re-enter and sit at table. Lights up on table)

 

SARA. So, did it work?

 

JOE. Let’s fast forward fifteen years. It’s now nineteen ninety five and Hal Ryder comes out with a patent on a fuel cell capacitor.  A device that separates the molecule of water into it’s hydrogen component and burns it efficiently within the car engine. He retrofits a Volkswagen bug and claims it can run from New York to California on just twenty two gallons of water! Various local news outlets pick up the story. The video of the car running can be seen on you tube.

 

SARA. I’m sure, but can you tell from the video what’s fueling the car?

 

JOE. Not really, but I do know that he was approached by the U.S. government as well as representatives of OPEC who wanted to buy out his patent. So that being the case I’m going on the assumption that maybe he had something there. I had occasion to pay him a visit that year. Here’s how it went.

 

(Lights down on table stage right and up on living room as Stan sits on couch, some papers spread on the coffee table. Steve stands nearby. Joe has exited state and now knocks at door.)

 

HAL. That’s him.

 

STEVE. I’ll get it.

 

(Steve opens the door and Joe enters)

 

JOE. You must be the brother.

 

STEVE. That’s correct. And your name.

 

JOE. Mobil.  Joe Mobil. Or Joe Exxon, or Shell. I represent them all. As well as the pentagon.

 

HAL. I’m Hal Ryder.

 

JOE. I know who you are. I thought you were told we were meeting alone.

 

HAL. My brother’s my partner. He can hear anything you have to say.

 

JOE. Suit yourself. Are those the plans?

 

HAL. Yes. The schematic. The patents are in my safe. Although I don’t know what you plan to accomplish here. You people have been chasing me for the past five years. And the closer I’ve gotten to success the more intensive it’s been. I’m not interested in selling. For any price.

 

JOE. Why not. Why not become a very wealthy man and retire someplace warm…..and safe.

 

STEVE. Because we know you will squelch the technology and a car that runs on water will never make it to the market place. And since you’ll own the patent on the technology no competitor will ever be able to duplicate it. There is no duplicating this technology. There are no alternate methods, no slight variations that will produce the same results.

 

JOE. (amused)

Oh wait, now I get it. I had it all wrong. What we have here are a couple of patriots! Benevolent patriots out to help and advance mankind.

 

HAL. Not totally. We’ll still get rich.

 

JOE. How? You going to open your own car dealership. A factory to manufacture new cars. That takes backers. And lots of money.

 

HAL. Which we have. We’ve even spoken to some former executives of American Motors about this.

 

JOE. American Motors? The mickey mouse outfit that made the Gremlin? Listen to me pal, and listen good. No American or foreign auto manufacturer is going to do anything that we don’t want them to. 

 

HAL. I have investors outside of oil and the auto industry lined up.

 

JOE. Really? Good luck.

 

HAL. I think this meeting is over.

 

JOE. You mean you don’t want to even hear my offer? (to Steve) I think your brother is being a little naïve, don’t you? I don’t think he understands the ramifications of what tragic circumstances can occur in cases like this. Cases where a lot of important people and entities stand to lose a lot of money if a reasonable solution isn’t found.

 

STEVE. Maybe we should listen to his offer Stan.

 

HAL. Why? What’s he gonna  do? Kill me?  Make me disappear? The technology is there and the patent is done. You get rid of me, someone else replaces me. How long do you think you can keep this secret from the American public? Imagine their outrage when they find out that their own government is standing in the way of progress and keeping them from an alternative way of fueling their car that would cost them practically nothing. Are you going to kill everyone Mr. Mobil? Every U.S. citizen? They’ll be nobody left to purchase your oil, will there.

 

JOE. One thing I have to say Hal, you certainly are passionate… I’m going to whisper a figure into your brother’s ear. I think you should seriously consider it. Carefully. The figure is non-negotiable unless you want to take less. You could divide it by a thousand and still be a very wealthy man. 

 

(he whispers in Steve’s ear)

 

Thank you for your time gentleman. You know how to get in touch with me. I await your decision.  The offer is good for one week from today. If I don’t hear from you by then, it’s out of my hands.

 

(Joe exits)

 

STEVE. You want to know the figure?

 

HAL. No.

 

STEVE. I think you should hear it.

 

HAL. I’m not interested in  seeing twenty years of work never coming to fruition.

 

STEVE. Stan, it’s a lot of money. And you know these guys are dangerous.  Who cares if it doesn’t come to market through you. Eventually, when the time is right, someone else will get it done. 

 

HAL. When the time is right?  (He stands)  Stan, remember when we were kids, back in sixty nine when we watched the moon landing? Remember how we thought, wow, I wonder what space travel will look like in, twenty, thirty, fifty years? We could be going to Mars, Jupiter…maybe another solar system. And we’d live to see it.  With all the technological resources and money America has? Well it’s been twenty five years and how far have we gotten? A space station. A shuttle? We’re never going deeper into space and you know why? There’s no money in it. The government is not going to do shit to improve things if there’s no money in it. It’s up to individuals to get it done. Individual entrepreneurs like us. Like the Wright brothers, and Tesla and Henry Ford.

 

STEVE. Especially in light of the fact that everyone said that what you’ve done is impossible because it violates the first two law’s of thermodynamics.

 

HAL. If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that everything is impossible until man or nature finds a way. Electricity was impossible. Splitting the atom was impossible. Damn, a microwave oven was impossible.

 

STEVE. five hundred million dollars Hal. That was his offer. That buys an awful lot of microwave ovens. You need to think about this.  Hal, are you listening to me?

 

HAL. Yes, I’m listening. I’ll seriously consider it.

 

STEVE. You better. Especially when you consider the alternative.

 

(Lights down as Hal exits and Steve remains on the couch. Lights up on table right)

 

SARA. So what did he decide?  What happened?

 

JOE. Let’s fast forward three years and find out.

 

(Lights up on couch. A voice off stage can be heard)

 

VOICE OFF. Okay Mr. Ryder. You are being recorded. This statement is for the record concerning the death of your brother, Hal Ryder. You can begin in five…four thee…two..one

 

STEVE. (he reads from a type written  paper)

My name is Steven Ryder. I was born and reside in the state of Illinois. Approximately  three days ago, March 21st , 1998, my brother Hal and I were at  lunch in a local restaurant with two French Investors when Hal took a drink of iced tea, started choking and ran from the restaurant. I followed him out the front door where he exclaimed “I’ve been poisoned, Stevie, they poisoned me” and collapsed to the ground. The paramedics arrived but were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. The official coroner’s report declared that my brother died from a brain aneurism but I believe that diagnosis to be incorrect. I believe, in light of the following facts, that my brother was murdered. The facts are as follows. My brother, since nineteen seventy five, had been working on a viable system for an alternative fuel source, namely, H2O or common water, in it’s native component of hydrogen, to fuel auto mobiles. As his work proved successful he was approached on separate occasions by representatives of U.S. and foreign oil companies, the pentagon and the U.S. government. Monetary remuneration was offered to him on many occasions in exchange for his patents but in each case and against my advice and the advice of others, he refused all offers. On the day of his death the two French investors who were present showed neither remorse, or surprise after he collapsed outside the restaurant.  Prior to today and I’m sure long after, many people have tried and will continue to discredit my brother as a crank and a fraud. But I’m here to tell you that Hal Ryder was an American patriot. A true patriot who refused large sums of money and an easy way out to try to lighten the burden of working class people by providing them with a cheap energy source. This my statement, this 23rd day of March nineteen hundred and ninety eight.

 

(Lights down on Steve as he exits stage. Lights up on table)

 

SARA. So that’s what happened?

 

JOE. That’s what happened.

 

SARA. You haven’t answered one question.

 

JOE. And what’s that?

 

SARA. Why? Why are you telling me all this?

 

JOE. I’m getting old. Sometimes a person wants to purge himself. Get things off his chest. For whatever reason. Remember I told you of the mafia Don’s and their death bed confessions about the Kennedy assassination?

 

SARA. And so ends the Hal Ryder story and cars that run on water.

 

JOE. Actually, that’s not quite the end.

 

SARA. How so?

 

JOE. Let’s just say that here were some residual effects. 

 

SARA. What kind of residual effects?

 

JOE. Residual effects like this idiot who I had to deal with just last year. Remember what I told you, this story is floating around the internet. Sometimes people find it.

 

(Lights down stage right and up center as Joe sits on couch and there is a knock at the door) 

 

Come in.

 

(Adrian Schwartz, about fifty years old, enters)

 

You’re Schwartz?

 

ADRIAN. I am, Adrian Schwartz.

 

(He puts his hand out to shakes Joe’s but Joe doesn’t return the gesture)

 

 

JOE. (he smiles)

Adrian Schwartz, the Hollywood writer.

 

ADRIAN. One and the same. I take it you’ve read the screenplay?

 

JOE. We have.

 

ADRIAN. And you know my figure. How much I’m looking for? I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.

 

JOE. You don’t need to know my name. And for the record, we are not particularly fond of people trying to extort money from us by writing the kind of conspiracy bullshit that you’ve written. “HALRYDER, THE CAR THAT RUNS ON WATER.”

 

ADRIAN. Let’s not be coy. You wouldn’t even be seeing me if you thought the idea was bullshit. You’d just let me go ahead and let my agent sell the rights to the studio. But you and your people don’t want this story out there in the mainstream even if it is bullshit. So I’m doing the smart thing. I’m playing it smart and coming to you first. You know my price. I know what it’s worth to you. And it’s a pretty small amount to guys like you but it’s enough for me to pay off some debts and buy a boat in Marina Del Ray so I can write some other screenplays in peace.  

 

JOE. We know all about your debts. They’re gambling debts in Vegas. We know those people very well. Why don’t we just give you nothing and let the casino people deal with you?

 

ADRIAN. Because the casino people know that I have a track record and I stand to make much more money if I get the movie made. Then they get paid off and I probably keep losing money to them for years to come so they’re willing to wait. Now you have my offer, what’s it gonna be?

 

JOE. We’ll let you know. Thanks for coming.

 

ADRIAN. When?

 

JOE. By Friday.

 

ADRIAN. Great, you can find me through my agent.

 

JOE. Oh we’ll find you alright.

 

(lights down center as Arian exits and up as Joe sits at table )

 

SARA. So what happened to Schwartz?

 

JOE. We bought the rights to his screenplay for two million and burned it.

 

SARA. What if somebody else writes one?

 

JOE. Depends.

 

SARA. On what?

 

JOE. How good it is and how much money they want for it.

 

SARA. I don’t follow you.

 

JOE. Mr. Schwartz wasn’t the first screenwriter, studio exec or literary agent to approach us with the same basic storyline.. There were several before them.

 

SARA. So what happened to them?

 

JOE. Like I said, it depends. For three million or less we usually pay them off.

 

SARA. But Schwartz only got two million.

 

JOE. He was a bad negotiator. That’s all he asked for. Besides, I wasn’t crazy about his ending.

 

SARA. So you paid them all of?

 

JOE. Not all of them. Some didn’t want to negotiate a price so we dealt with them differently.

 

SARA. How so?

 

JOE. Come on Miss Handly. Do I really need to spell that out?

 

SARA. So you’ll just keep paying anyone who approaches you to go away?

 

JOE. Don’t forget, we were willing to pay Mr. Ryder a half billion but he was the inventor. A major motion picture release, even if it’s taken as fiction, gets the public to thinking. “Hey, why can’t the government dedicate more money and research to cars than run on water rather than oil.  Shit, they spend enough money on new weapons to kill people…how about helping out the middle class a little.” No one wants that kind of headache. So keeping the whole thing quiet is better. Like I said before, some information is available on the internet and there are a lot of scammers out there trying to sell a product similar to Ryder’s but they just plain don’t work so that makes it a lot easier to discredit Hal Ryder as a scam artist.

 

SARA. And you think Hal Ryder’s car did work? It ran on water?

 

JOE. What’s the difference? Even if it didn’t he came very close. And very close is too close for us. It means if some corporation actually did devote research and money to the idea they might actually come up with something and we can’t have that now can we?

 

SARA. Still, paying anyone who approaches you three million each still seems like a costly way to do business to me.. 

 

JOE. There’s not as many people as you think Miss Handly. We don’t just negotiate with anyone coming in off the street with a script. They have to have an agent, a track record or a producer backing them. Schwartz had a track record and an agent. A bit of a hack but he did sell some low budget screenplays. And as to the three million dollars? You see it’s all a matter of economics to us, dollars and cents. There is sometimes more money  involved in dealing with someone differently that paying them off. Depending on who the person is and the amount of family and contacts they had. That’s a lot of money to spread around to have to keep people quiet. In most cases it’s more cost effective to just pay the one person off then ten others who might ask questions. We took care of Steven Ryder well enough. You won’t be hearing from him again.

 

SARA. You mean…

 

JOE. Oh no, Steven is resting comfortably in a nice warm climate. He was well compensated and he’s not saying another word on the subject. He’s nobodies fool. And as to paying anyone else three million.

 

SARA. (he takes out a penny and puts it on the table)

You see this.

 

SARA. A penny.

 

JOE. That’s correct. Divide it buy a thousand before three million would even feel like a penny to the oil companies. When the thousandth jerk with a screenplay approaches’ we’ll worry about it.

 

SARA. When you put it that way….yes, I guess paying them off would be better than……

 

JOE. Dealing with them ‘differently?”  Why of course it would, after all, we’re reasonable people.

 

SARA. (She rises)

One last Question. What ever happened to the car?

 

JOE. Oh, it’s in good hands.

(He rises and picks up the three bottled waters)

Well I have a five hour drive back to Virginia.

 

SARA. In case you get thirsty on the way.

 

 

JOE.  I told you it’s a long drive. And I’m almost out of fuel.

 

 

 

 BLACK OUT




---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


 

 

 

 

 

TEN MORE WEDNESDAYS

 

By

 

Joe Simonelli

 


 

 

 

 

CHARACTERS

Alicia              -   50

Trey                -   55

Arnie              -   54

 


SETTING:  Austin Texas. Typical living room. Couch, coffee table, end table with lamp.  Front door stage left and escape to kitchen stage right.

 

AT RISE:  Alicia enters from the kitchen. She straightens out some pillows on the couch, takes a small picture of a sixteen year old girl from the end table, dusts it off with a tissue, kisses it, and puts it back in it’s place as there is a knock on the door.

 

  (Alicia Backs away from the door apprehensively)

 

ALICIA. Who is it?

 

TREY. (From off) It’s only me Alicia. Your brother Trey. Open the door now.

 

(Alicia moves to the door, unlocks and opens it as Trey enters)

 

TREY. Don’t tell me you forgot I was coming over.

 

ALICIA. Oh Trey I’m afraid this is bad timing. I am just not in the mood to meet your friend today. Can’t you call him for me and tell him another time?

 

TREY. Another time? For God’s sake he’ll be here any minute. He drove all the way from Houston. 

 

ALICIA. Well he’s coming to visit with you. You went to college with him, not me.

 

TREY. I told him all about you and he’s looking forward to seeing you.

 

ALICIA, Not today Trey please. I’ve got too much on my mind. I’m not ready to socialize.

 

TREY. You have not been ready to socialize for the past nine years. 

 

ALICIA. I know Trey. But Arnie is from New York. He’s not our kind, not a Texan.

TREY. The man went to college here and never left Alicia. Thirty years now. He’s just as Texan as you or me. Now he’ll be here anytime.

 

ALICIA. That’s fine but why don’t you boys just go out and do something. He’s not going to want to hang around here. I just can’t cope with it now.

 

TREY. And just when are you going to be able to cope with it?

 

ALICIA. (with contempt) You know exactly when.

 

TREY. Here we go again….Didn’t I promise you? Didn’t I promise you I’d see you through this. I promised ma too before she passed. She begged me to.

 

ALICIA. Now you just leave ma out of this. Let that poor woman rest in peace.

 

TREY. Well I doubt she is resting with the way you’re acting.

 

ALICIA. Now that’s enough on that subject.

 

TREY. Yes, it is, isn’t it.

 

(a knock at the door)

 

TREY. Well that’s him. What do you want me to do? Send him back to Houston?

 

ALICIA. Yes, but nicely.

 

TREY. We’re Texan’s, we don’t treat people that way.

 

ALICIA. I’m sorry, you’re right, we don’t. Let the man in.

 

(Trey crosses and lets Arnie in)

 

ARNIE. Hey, there you are Tex!

 

(they embrace)

TREY. Arnie you old hound dog! How the heck are ya?

 

ARNIE. Doing okay, doing okay…and I take it this is your lovely sister. You told me she was a looker but you really didn’t do her justice.

 

ALICIA. Why aren’t you the flatterer mister Santino.

 

ARNIE. Please, call me Arnie. Now having known your bother for thirty years how is it we never met sooner?  Every time I’d come to visit during college you never seemed to be around.

 

ALICIA. Well I suppose I was away at school also at the time.

 

ARNIE. (To Trey) I’m sorry to hear about your mom passing. She was such a nice lady.

 

TREY. That she was and we sure miss her…(To Alicia) But let’s move on to happier subjects, shall we.

 

ARNIE. Absolutely. Why don’t we.

 

ALICIA. Why Trey, where are your manners? Offer your friend some refreshments?

 

TREY. What can I get you ya old ‘aggie? Scotch? Beer?

 

ARNIE. I’m afraid this old Aggie has sworn off the hard stuff.  How about a cup of tea.

 

ALICIA. Coming right up.

 

TREY. No, no. I’ll get it. Why don’t you two set on the couch and chat awhile and I’ll be right back.

 

ALICIA. Oh let me Trey, you’ve got catching up to do. You don’t even know where I keep the tea.

 

TREY. (Adamant) I’m a big boy. I’ll manage.

 

(Trey exits )

 

ARNIE. Well shall we sit?

 

ALICIA. Certainly.

 

(They both sit on the couch)

 

ARNIE. Boy that brother of yours, he was a wild man back in the day. Did he ever tell you the time he stuck some pine needles in the seat of the mascot’s costume. You never saw a cow run from the ten yard line to the locker room so fast.

 

ALICIA. He may have forgot to tell me that particular story. But tell me Arnie, how is it a boy from New York decides to come to college in Texas.

 

ARNIE. Well I guess a full football scholarship had a lot to do with it.

 

ALICIA. And you and my brother hit it off so well.

 

ARNIE. I think he was a little fascinated by the stories I told him about growing up on Staten Island.  Must have seemed like stories from a foreign county to him.

 

ALICIA. Maybe to a lot of folks around these parts.

 

ARNIE. Well, you know parts of Staten Island are no different from a small town in Texas. Especially the south shore near New Jersey. Not so much little towns but little neighborhoods. Neighborhoods where you didn’t have to lock your doors and you could just sit out front on a summer afternoon and everybody would look out for each other.

 

ALICIA. Is that so? Well I’m afraid I am not as trusting as I used to be. No sir, I keep my door locked and bolted all the time.

 

ARNIE. Is that so? Seems like a nice neighborhood to me.

 

ALICIA. You have no idea what can happen in a nice neighborhood Arnie.

 

ARNIE. I suppose you’re right. Can’t be too careful anywhere now a days.

 

ALICIA. You said a mouthful there.

 

ARNIE. Kind of a shame isn’t it. People not being able to get along.

 

ALICIA. I find that fences make very good neighbors. Hear me Arnie, in some cases you can’t trust anyone. Least of which are the people you think you are closest to.

 

ARNIE. I see….

 

ALICIA. I’m sorry, sometimes I let memories bother me too much. Trey always tells me so. Let’s talk about something else.

 

ARNIE. Okay. Well to start, why don’t you tell me what you’ve been up to the last thirty years? Trey doesn’t tell me much. Married?

 

ALICIA. I was. Twice. Yourself?

 

ARNIE. Just once. She moved back east about five years ago. We were only together five years before that. A girl I knew from New York.

 

ALICIA. I’m sorry to hear that.

 

ARNIE. I just don’t think she ever adjusted to life in Texas. Missed the Manhattan night life too much. Loved to go to Broadway plays. I liked it too. Always try to catch one when I go home to visit the siblings.

 

ALICIA. You know all Texans aren’t exactly backwoods hillbillies. We have quite a bit of theatre and culture here. Surely you’ve lived here long enough to know that.

 

ARNIE. Oh yes, I have. Why I even did a little drama in college.

 

ALICIA. Did you? So did I.

ARNIE. No kidding. Well there, we found some common ground. Maybe the two of us should go audition for something together.

 

ALICIA. That actually might be fun. Something to consider down the road a bit. A distraction. But then again distractions can be dangerous sometimes. Not paying attention to what’s going on can be dangerous.

 

ARNIE. It’s very burdensome to have to constantly pay attention to everything all the time Alicia. Don’t you think? Don’t you think you deserve a little fun now and then?

 

ALICIA. Oh I dream about it Arnie, I long for it. If only I could. 

It would really be nice to have fun again. I used to you know. A long time ago with my first husband Robert. Picnics, movies, sight seeing and travel. Oh, and baseball games, we’d love going to baseball games in the summer. But that was a long time ago. A lifetime ago.  If only I could have fun again. Arnie. If only for a day. A few hours.

 

ARNIE. Well what’s stopping you?

 

ALICIA. It’s not the right time...yet. Something I’d rather not talk about right now Arnie if you don’t mind. Maybe when I get to know you a little better.

 

ARNIE. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry. Just trying to make conversation.

 

ALICIA. Well, truth be told I’ve been through a bit of a crisis. A trauma. But things will be looking better soon. In ten more Wednesdays to be precise.

 

ARNIE. Ten more Wednesdays?  That’s a funny way of keeping track of time.

 

ALICIA. For some maybe for not for me.

 

ARNIE. I don’t quite understand.

 

ALICIA. Come now Arnie, haven’t you ever had an important event pending, and you use your kitchen calendar to cross off the days?

 

ARNIE. Sure have. I suppose we all have.

 

ALICIA. Well that’s what I do. Been doing it for six months now. Every Wednesday morning I wake up. And before I do anything, brush my teeth or wash up. Before I do anything I run to that kitchen and over to that calendar on the wall and with a big black magic marker I just cross off the Wednesday on the calendar as quick as I can. And as soon as I do I let out a big sigh, and I look out the kitchen window toward the shed to see what kind of day it’s gonna be. And I say, yeah, it’s gonna be a good day today.

 

ARNIE. I’m afraid you’ve lost me.

 

( Trey enters from the kitchen)

 

TREY. Come on, I’ve got the tea steepin’ in the kitchen. I even found some cookies after an arduous search of the cabinets. What have you both been talkin’ about?

 

ARNIE. Time. Calendars to be precise. 

 

TREY. Alicia you haven’t.  What have I told you about that?

 

ALICIA. You told me it’s time to move on Trey that’s what you told me. And so that’s what I’m doing. And it’s about time I did. Cause you see it will soon be over. In just ten more Wednesday’s it’s all going to be over.. And I’ll never have to think about it again….I’m sorry I haven’t been better company for you Arnie. You seem like a very nice fellow. But I think I’m going to take that tea to the back yard and sit a bit. You boys enjoy yourself.

 

(Alicia exits to the kitchen)

 

ARNIE. I don’t understand Trey. Did I say something wrong?

 

TREY. It’s not you Arnie. I shouldn’t have invited you over. She wasn’t ready.  She’s been through an ordeal.

 

ARNIE. An ordeal that’s going to end in two and a half months? Ten more Wednesdays? What happens then? She’s too young to retire. Does she get some kind of pension, some trust fund? What happens in ten more Wednesdays Trey?

 

TREY. (points to the end table) You see that picture there.

 

ARNIE. Yeah. Pretty girl.

 

TREY. Alicia’s daughter Gail from her first marriage. That picture was taken when she was sixteen. Shortly after that she was raped and murdered in that shed in the back yard. It’s been nine years now. No more postponements, or stays. In ten more Wednesdays that son of a bitch stepfather of hers gets a lethal injection in the Texas State penitentiary.

 

 

                          BLACK OUT


MORE PLAYS BY JOE SIMONELLI

A Christmas Tail – Dramedy

Closing Notices (4 dramatic one acts)

Dying for Theatre (Formerly “Ladies in Lingerie”) Comedy (Samuel French)

(The) Haunting of Billop House - Thriller

Heaven Help Me – Comedy (Samuel French)

Injustice for All  - Courtroom Drama

Men are Dogs – Comedy (Samuel French)

Out at Third - Drama

A Rainbow Holiday (co – written with Lori Sigrist) – Dramedy

Romance.com – Musical Comedy

Roommates – Comedy

Sicilians in the Basement – Romantic Comedy

Seven By Simonelli – 7 comedic one act plays

Stocks and Blonds – Comedy

Wake me at Midnight - Comedy

With This Ring – Romantic Dramady

Where there’s a Will – Comedy

Wretched Asylum – Drama 


 

 

 

For more information and performance rights on all plays visit www.joesimonelli.com

Scripts for “Men Are Dogs”, “Heaven Help Me” and “Dying for Theatre” (formerly  and listed as“Ladies in Lingerie”) are available for purchase through Samuel French publishing.

All other scripts are available for purchase on Amazon.

 

For licensing inquiries on this and other titles, please contact: 

 

Brian Sherman

IPEX Theatrical Artists

p: 646-355-8050

e: info@ipexartists.com

 

 More titles from Mr. Simonelli can be found on my website below.

 

http://www.joesimonelli.com/