Spartacus Is Dead: A Short Play

Characters

Carmen: 22, tends towards obsession but it is never certain what she will obsess over or when the obsession will suddenly stop

Jasmine: 22, quintessential BFF type, has known Carmen for 6 years, she is the one who introduced Carmen and Nathan

Nathan: 25, man-child unable to finish anything he starts, has been in the Army Reserve for 6 years, but can’t hold down any other job for long because something always goes wrong though it is never really his fault

Setting

An outdoor café.

The Play

Jasmine and Carmen are eating lunch. Well, Jasmine is eating. Carmen has her head down on the table and is sobbing uncontrollably. Jasmine ignores it at first, but she finally reaches over and pats Carmen on the head. Like a puppy or a small child.

Jasmine: Carmen, honey, please stop crying. He’s really not worth this.

Carmen: (cries harder, head still down) Yes he is! Jasmine, you don’t understand what I’ve lost!

Jasmine: Oh, you’ll find someone else. Really, you will.

Carmen: There will never be another man like him!

Jasmine: Really, you’re being melodramatic. And I know you and Nathan had been together for a long time, but—

Carmen: (raises her head suddenly to interrupt) Nathan? Who said anything about Nathan?

Jasmine: Well, you guys just broke up, and you’re crying so… Wait, then who are you crying about?

(Carmen bursts into tears again and puts her head on her arms. She mutters indistinctly.)

Jasmine: What?

(Indistinct muttering)

Jasmine: For God’s sakes Carmen, lift your head up so I can hear you.

Carmen: (lifts her head and exclaims) Spartacus is dead!

(Long pause)

Jasmine: Excuse me?

Carmen: What part of dead do you not understand?

Jasmine: You’re upset that a gladiator from ancient Rome is dead?

Carmen: Yes! I mean, no… Sort of. You know how much I love that show, right?

Jasmine: Yea, it’s basically all you’ve been talking about for the last two months.

Carmen: Right, well the last episode aired last night.

Jasmine: Carmen, you already knew he was going to die. It’s a historical fact.

Carmen: No! The real Spartacus’s body was never found. The producers could have made it so he lived, but they killed him anyway (starts crying again) It was…the saddest…thing…I’ve ever…seen… And I watched it five times!

Jasmine: (muttering) Kill me now.

Carmen: I mean, I was devastated when Crixus died in the episode before that, but even that didn’t prepare me for losing Spartacus… I don’t know how I can go on after this. (She puts her head back down on the table.)

Jasmine stares at her silently. Nathan enters stage right. He stops when he sees Carmen sobbing on the table. It is clear he thinks he is the cause.

Nathan: Um, Carmen?

Her head pops up at his voice, and she instantly stops crying. She begins to eat as though she hadn’t been sobbing hysterically for the past ten minutes.

Carmen: Hi.

Jasmine: O, hello Nathan. How are you?

Nathan: Great. I was, uh, just on my way to get something to eat. How’s it going?

Jasmine: O just swell. You should join us.

Nathan: No, I think I…I’ll just keep going.

Carmen: No, stay. Please, I know how much you love this place.

Nathan: O, ok then.

He sits and the three regard each other awkwardly. Carmen begins making eye contact with Jasmine and trying to indicate that she should leave. This goes on for several moments as at first Jasmine really doesn’t understand what she wants and then just pretends she doesn’t get it to be a pain in the ass. Finally, Jasmine checks the time on her phone and stands.

Jasmine: I’ve gotta run.

Carmen: What’s the rush?

Jasmine: Well, if you really want me to stay— (she begins to sit)

Carmen: O wait, I forgot you told me you were meeting Jeremy for something. See you later, then.

Jasmine: Right. Nice to see you again, Nathan. (She exits left. Carmen and Nathan sit in silence for a few minutes.)

Carmen: Do you want the rest of this?

Nathan: No, I figured I’d order something when the waiter has a moment to come over here.

Carmen: Good luck with that.

(Beat)

Carmen: Seriously, I’m not going to finish it; just take it. It’s your favorite from here anyway.

Nathan: Well, if you insist.

Carmen: I do.

(Beat)

Nathan: Carmen, why were you crying just now?

Carmen: Crying? I wasn’t crying. I had one of those sudden massive headaches and it made my eyes tear up. Putting my head on the table helped a lot.

Nathan: Right.

(Beat)

Nathan: So, how have you been since… you know.

Carmen: Since you decided I wasn’t good enough for you?

Nathan: O come on, you know that’s not why—

Carmen: (interrupts) I’m kidding, Nathan. We both agreed it was better to split for a while; quit acting like I’m a suicide risk.

Nathan: (after a slight pause) Are you?

Carmen: No! Chill out. We’re just taking a break to work on ourselves; not saying goodbye forever.

Nathan: I think we’re doing it wrong.

Carmen: How so?

Nathan: Well, we’ve still talked every day since we broke up.

Carmen: It’s not like I’m kicking you out of my life or something.

Nathan: True, but, shouldn’t time apart mean, you know, time apart?

Carmen: (sighs) Then stop calling me.

Nathan: I don’t… O wait… Yea, I guess that is on me… Damn… (Pause) I miss you, though.

Carmen: I miss you, too, I guess.

Nathan: (sarcastically) Well that seemed heartfelt.

Carmen: What do you want me to say?

Nathan: If you don’t miss me, then why were you crying when I walked up? And don’t give me that bullshit about a sudden migraine.

Carmen: You don’t want an honest answer to that.

Nathan: Seriously?

Carmen: Fine! I was crying because I just watched the series finale of Spartacus, and he died. Happy? (She starts to tear up again.)

Nathan: What the fuck.

(Long pause as Carmen calms herself.)

Carmen: You know, I was thinking about you the other day. And I was missing you and being all sad. And I had this pain in my chest, and I thought “I miss him so much that my heart is literally hurting.” And then I thought about how terribly romantic and pathetic that sounded. But then, I realized that the heart is more like in the center of the chest, and it was the left side that was hurting.

Nathan: Aren’t you kind of young for a heart attack?

Carmen: (Ignores him) It was then that I realized, my left boob misses you.

(Beat)

Nathan: I can fix that.

(Beat)

Carmen: (chooses to ignore the innuendo) But you know what’s really helped me get over all the shit between us that would otherwise be smothering me in heartbreak?

Nathan: Boob massage?

Carmen: No. Spartacus. I get lost in that show. I care about the gladiators and the slaves they’ve freed. I care about whether or not Spartacus will end up sleeping with that Roman chick. I want Gannicus to be a good guy, and instead he gets fucking crucified (She starts crying again, but stops almost instantly) The point is, watching this show, I can cry over these characters instead of crying over you, and that makes me feel good.

Nathan: So, I don’t want to sound like a jealous asshole or anything, but I know when you used to watch that show with me it made you all frisky and shit, so… when you’re watching this show and you get like that… who are you turning to?

Carmen: Well, the last few episodes have had more blood than sex, so that hasn’t exactly been a problem.

Nathan: O, well, that’s good then. (Beat) But seriously, I can fix that boob issue for you.

Carmen: Damn it, Nathan! (Deep breath) So how’s the new job going?

Nathan: I don’t think it’ll last long. The managers are all dicks.

Carmen: Wasn’t that the problem at the last place, too?

Nathan: Good management is hard to find.

Carmen: For the love of… (Jasmine enters left.) O thank God.

Jasmine: You guys are still here?

Carmen: Yea, come back and join us.

Jasmine: But I’ve got that thing with Jeremy.

Carmen: He can wait. (Carmen stands and physically forces Jasmine to sit)

Jasmine: So, what’ve you guys been talking about?

Nathan: Spartacus and Carmen’s boobs.

Carmen: Can we drop the boob issue now? Please?

Jasmine: Yes, please, let’s drop that issue. Also the Spartacus issue, because seriously, I’m tired of her bursting into tears when she remembers he’s dead.

(Carmen starts crying again.)

Jasmine: Damn it.

Nathan: I still don’t get how you can cry over the death of a fictional character (Jasmine starts to interrupts but he quickly adds) yes, I know he was a real historical figure, but she’s crying over the fictional version. Anyway, I don’t get how you can cry over that, but not the death of our relationship.

Carmen: I already told you! (She puts her head on the table and sobs as Jasmine and Nathan talk)

Nathan: How long has this been going on?

Jasmine: All afternoon. I thought she wanted to grab lunch and talk about you, but she just keeps crying over Spartacus.

(A faint wail issues from Carmen’s bowed head)

Nathan: Did our relationship really mean that little to her?

Jasmine: I don’t think that’s the problem. I think she just can’t focus on more than one guy at a time, and since you removed yourself from the picture, that guy is now Spartacus.

Nathan: Well that sucks. (Beat) Does this mean she and I are really over?

Jasmine: Hell if I know. You guys will have to figure that out for yourselves.

Carmen suddenly sits up and takes a deep breath. She has stopped crying, and she looks extremely happy.

Carmen: Holy shit, I just remembered! There might be a Caesar spinoff!

The End

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Road Rage- A Short Play

Road Rage

By Jen Novotny

Characters

Paul: 30, accountant for a large local bank. Dressed in nice suit, though he wears it slightly off, as though he is not use to it. Close-cropped hair, good looking in an average way. Married to Katherine for 3 years.

Katherine: 28, event organizer and entrepreneur. Very focused on her business, sometimes wonders why she married Paul in the first place. Wears a nice dress, hitting at the knee or higher and four-inch heels. She is dressed up for a night out, and she is owning it, most of the time.

Setting

The couple’s SUV, driving down the road

………………………………………………………………………………………..

Two Chairs sit CS. Otherwise bare.

Paul (offstage right): I can’t believe you’re making me miss the television premiere of Inception for this.

Katherine (also OSR): You already own it.

Paul: Not the point.

Katherine: Well, maybe we’ll catch the second running after dinner.

(Pause.)

Paul: Honey, we’re going to be late. Could you walk a little quicker?

Katherine: How about we put you in four-inch heels and see how quick you walk?

Paul: (as he comes onstage) Then why are you wearing them?

Katherine: (trailing behind) This is our first date night in months. I want to look hot.

Paul: Honey, you know you don’t have to do that for me. (Pantomimes holding car door open for her.) I love you, no matter what you’re wearing.

Katherine: It’s not for you. (Gets in)

(Beat)

Paul: Then who is it for?

Katherine: The people at the restaurant. Why do you think I made you wear the good suit?

Paul: I don’t understand.

Katherine: Darling, forget it. Just get in the car.

Paul: But why don’t you–.

Katherine: We’re going to be late, remember?

(As Katherine primps in the visor mirror, Paul mimics strangling her before shrugging it off and walking around to the driver’s side seat. Several moments of silence as Paul mimes driving and Katherine stares out the window.)

Katherine: Did you call your mother?

Paul: I forgot. I’ll do it tomorrow. She won’t mind.

Katherine: (mutters) Yea, right.

Paul: I think I know my own mother well enough to know how she’ll feel about me calling one day later than I said I would.

Katherine: I know Meredith pretty well by now, and you should know that what she says to your face isn’t necessarily—

Paul: (suddenly lays on the horn—a tinny and all together ridiculous sound—and gesticulates wildly while shouting) Watch what you’re doing, asshole! You can’t just pull out at a four-way stop when it’s not your turn! God damn it. (Calms down instantly) I’m sorry, honey, what were you saying?

Katherine: Nevermind, just don’t forget to call her tomorrow or all I’ll be hearing the next time we go over is how her son doesn’t care about her at all.

Paul: What? Has my mother said that to you before?

Katherine: Darling you have no idea. Before we got married I thought she was trying to convince me not to stay with you the way she’d go on and on about all of your bad qualities. Now I just think she likes to complain about her family members. You should hear the way she talks about your father.

Paul: Are you serious? I thought my mother— (horn again, yelling out the window) Your lane! Stay in your lane! Your lane! Can you believe the way people drive these days? Do people even have to take a test anymore? Jesus.

Katherine (sighs): I wish you’d stop doing that.

Paul: What? What am I doing?

Katherine: Getting angry at every person that so much as twitches wrong at you. Half the time I’m pretty sure you’re imagining it.

Paul: I most certainly am not imagining it. Honey, we’ve almost been killed twice already. (Horn again) You bastard! Did you even look? And where the hell was your blinker?

Katherine: And I rest my case.

Paul: Now that was clearly the third time we’ve almost been killed, and we just left the house.

Katherine: But you don’t have to have a conniption fit every time something even remotely bad happens. Do you think maybe you’re part of the problem?

Paul: Do you want to drive? Because I can pull over so you can take the wheel, since you’re obviously so much better at driving than I am. Miss Calm and Collected in her four-inch freaking heels.

Katherine: No, I don’t want to drive, but if you’re going to pout you might as well turn around and take me home. And why are you attacking my shoes again? What did they ever do to you?

Paul: O hell, I don’t care what shoes you wear. I just want you to get off my case about the way I drive. (Horn again, also, both jerk forward slightly as Paul slams on the brakes) Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! When my light is green it means yours is definitely red! Yellow means slow down, not speed up, Genius! (Calm again) I’m sorry, where were we?

Katherine: O nevermind! Can you at least stop laying on the horn every time? Yell if you must, but holy crap, Paul. I get embarrassed riding in a car with you when every five seconds you’re blasting that damn thing. And what’s worse is that it sounds ridiculous.

Paul: It is a pretty pathetic horn for an SUV. (Beat) I’ll try to stop honking the horn so much.

Katherine: Thank you.

(Long pause)

Paul: Honey, can I ask you something without you getting mad at me?

Katherine: That you have to ask that means the answer is probably no.

Paul: O, ok.

(Beat)

Katherine: Well ask me anyway. I will attempt to keep an open mind.

Paul: Ok, so, you said you get embarrassed riding with me when I get angry at stupid drivers—like that asshole, there! O that turn signal was beautiful! I wish I’d taken a picture of it! O wait, there wasn’t one!—but it made me wonder, don’t you ever get angry and honk the horn at somebody who cuts you off or nearly hits you?

Katherine (thinks for a moment before replying): Nope, can’t say that I do.

Paul: O, ok. (Beat) Honey, you still haven’t told me where we’re going.

Katherine: I’m pretty sure that I did actually.

Paul: No, I think I would’ve remembered that.

Katherine: Then why didn’t you say something sooner?

Paul: Well, I kept thinking you would tell me eventually if I drove around long enough, but you’ve been too busy harping on my driving habits to give me directions.

Katherine: O for the love of… Pull over.

Paul: Where?

Katherine: Anywhere. It doesn’t matter. Just pull over and let me drive.

Paul: But what about your shoes?

Katherine: What about them?

(Paul puts the car in park and both unbuckle their seatbelts and get out as the dialogue continues.)

Paul: Will you be able to drive in them?

Katherine: I’ll take them off.

Paul: But, driving barefoot? Really?

(They stop and face each other at the front of the car.)

Katherine: Why not?

Paul: That’s just… Well, it’s weird.

Katherine: You’ve never driven barefoot before?

Paul: No, definitely not.

Katherine: O, well… I do sometimes.

Paul: I never knew that.

Katherine: Yea, well, you’re the one who drives whenever we go somewhere, so… yea…

(Awkward pause before they get back in the car, now with Katherine driving)

Katherine: Why do you get so bent out shape when other drivers do stupid things? I mean, I get angry, but I don’t turn into a big ball of jackass, yelling at people who can’t even hear me.

Paul: (testily) Well, that’s what the horn is for.

Katherine: But even that’s dumb. I mean, you can’t tell me that you’ve never done anything stupid while driving.

Paul: Yea, but I feel really bad about it when I do, and I apologize to them, even though they can’t hear me.

Katherine: Right. (Beat). But seriously why do you feel the need to freak out?

Paul: I don’t need to. I can quit doing it any time I want.

(Long pause)

Paul: Anyway, it makes me feel better. It de-stresses me.

Katherine: Like yoga?

Paul: Sure. Whatever. It makes me less likely to pick fights with people. Like you.

Katherine: So if you weren’t constantly yelling at other drivers you’d be yelling at me?

Paul: I plead the fifth. (Beat) Where are we going?

Katherine: You’ll find out when we get there. By the way, (She’s clearly nervous about the subject she’s going to bring up.) Marsha is having a baby shower next Tuesday.

Paul: I forgot she was pregnant. Well, have fun.

Katherine: It’s a couples’ shower.

Paul: No. No, honey, just no.

Katherine: Paul, be reasonable.

Paul: I am. No man in his right mind is going to go to a baby shower.

Katherine: What if it was for our baby?

Paul: But we aren’t having a baby. Not for a long time at least; and possibly not ever.

(Beat)

Katherine: Not ever?

Paul: Well, (growing uncomfortable) why should we? We’re both focused on our careers. I’m trying to work my way up at the bank, and your event planning business is really taking off. Neither of us has time for a child, and maybe we’ll decide that we never will. What’s wrong with that?

Katherine: You don’t possibly want to pass on your genes to the next generation?

Paul: I think you’ve been spending too much time with my mother.

(He realizes how terrible of a thing that was for him to say and cringes away as if he’s afraid she’s actually going to hit him. She grows very quiet for several moments before suddenly shouting and laying on the horn.)

Katherine: Watch what you’re doing, you asshole! Are you trying to cause a wreck? What the hell! Yield means wait until it’s clear, not go when you feel like it. (Pause, then another tirade while laying on the tinny horn; it should be clear this is another vehicle, not the same one.) Turn off your brights! You’re driving through town not a deer infested backroad. Are you trying to blind me?

Paul: Honey? (No response.) Honey? Are you ok?

Katherine: I’m fine.

Paul: You’re acting a little strange.

Katherine: I’m just trying to do what you suggested. Take my anger out on people who can’t hear me instead of you.

Paul: Why are you so upset?

Katherine: I’m not upset. If I were upset, I would be crying. (Starts to cry.) But I’m not am I?

Paul: What did I do now?

Katherine: You don’t want to have children with me! (Sound of a car horn—not theirs—is heard, and then another closely follows it.)

Paul: Honey, watch the road; you’re going to get us killed.

Katherine: Shut up! You know, all I wanted tonight was to get dressed up, go out to a nice restaurant, have some quality time together, and tell you I’m pregnant. But no, you had to do your usual shit with the road rage and, and keep complaining about my shoes!

(Long beat as Paul processes what just happened.)

Paul: I told you I don’t have a problem with your shoes.

(Katherine stares at him, and there are more car horns, very emphatic now. She turns back to the road, shaking her head over and over.)

Paul: I mean, ok, I’ll admit it, I don’t like it when you wear heels…Because it makes you taller than me…But if it makes you happy to wear them, then by all means, do it.

Katherine: Are you seriously talking about my shoes right now? I just told you I’m going to have your baby, a baby you apparently don’t want, and you’re talking about my shoes.

Paul: It’s an analogy.

(Beat.)

Katherine: You should stop talking now.

(Long pause.)

Paul: If it’s a boy can we name him Maximus?

Katherine: Seriously, just stop talking.

Paul: I mean it. I’ve always wanted to meet someone named Maximus, so how cool would it be if I actually had a kid named that?

Katherine: I might murder you.

Paul: Maximus Gaius. To stick with the Roman theme, you know?

Katherine: (She’s slowly starting to smile.) And if it’s a girl?

Paul: Ellen Paige. (Pause.) Why are you pulling over?

(She turns to him and throws her arms around him.)

Katherine: Let’s switch places so you can yell at other drivers.

Paul: Ok, but where are we going?

Katherine: Home.

Paul: So I got dressed up and missed Inception for nothing?

Katherine: I still might murder you.

Paul: But you wore heels.

Katherine: And they’d be the perfect weapon.

Paul: I don’t understand.

Katherine: Shut up and take us home, darling.

Fin

Suicide and Such: A Play

This is the first scene of the play I’m writing for Script Frenzy. I’ve been scrambling for an idea, and this is what I came up with. Comments appreciated, but remember this is only about 5% of the play. The rest is to come!

Act I

Scene 1

(The curtain should be open before the house lights go down. The stage is a funeral home. A casket sits downstage left at a diagonal. There is only one bunch of flowers by the casket. A card attached reads “For our beloved son and brother.” 10-12 Chairs for mourners are placed in two rows either center stage or upstage right depending on the size of the stage; the chairs are at a diagonal facing the casket. Otherwise, the stage is bare.)

JOSH (O.S.)

I can’t do this. I just can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t.

(As JOSH’s voice fades, MICHAEL enters. Looks around furtively. Finally, takes a seat at the back. TANYA strides in without noticing MICHAEL. She stands before the coffin.)

TANYA

What the fuck, Josh.

(MICHAEL sniggers. TANYA turns quickly, but relaxes when she sees who it is.)

TANYA

O, so you came.

MICHAEL

       (Shrugs)

Didn’t have anything better to do.

TANYA

(Sneers)

I’m sure. I bet you were ecstatic to hear.

MICHAEL

Ecstatic? No, I wouldn’t go that far. I certainly wasn’t sad. I won’t pretend I was. I don’t think anyone was.

TANYA

I was.

MICHAEL

Liar.

(TANYA looks like she’s about to attack him. Then, she relaxes.)

TANYA

Think what you like. I miss him.

MICHAEL

Like the mole they removed from your ass.

TANYA

Why do you always have to-

MICHAEL

Because I’m honest. You should know that by now. You used to be, too. What happened to that?

TANYA

Josh happened.

MICHAEL

Of course.

(Crosses to her.)

The whiny boyfriend. Always dragging you down. You couldn’t break up with him for fear that he’d kill himself.

TANYA

Didn’t work did it?

MICHAEL

(Laughs)

 No, I guess not. At least you’re free now.

TANYA

(Turns back to the coffin.)

Yea, I guess so.

(MICHAEL regards her silently for several moments.)

MICHAEL

You should have married him.

TANYA

Are you crazy.

(She laughs bitterly.)

Does it run in your family?

MICHAEL

I hope not. I’d rather my brother be the only suicidal maniac related to me. Pretty sure my parents would appreciate it, too.

(Pause)

Are you coming to the dinner at our place afterwards? I know Mom would like to see you.

TANYA

Why? So she can cry all over my new blouse?

MICHAEL

Is it new? I thought that was the same shirt you left at my place twice before you finally remembered to take it home with you.

TANYA

(Icy cold)

Let’s not talk about that.

MICHAEL

(Shrugs)

Fine. And no, I doubt Mom will cry at all, so your “new blouse” is perfectly safe.

TANYA

You’re such an ass! Josh may have been whiny, but at least he was kind… When he was anything…

MICHAEL

(Suddenly serious)

What do you mean?

TANYA

Didn’t you notice? Ninety-eight percent of the time he was just… nothing. It’s like he wasn’t there anyway.

MICHAEL

Can’t say that I did. But then, I didn’t spend much time with my brother since he disowned me for sleeping with you.

TANYA

Why does it always have to come back to that with you? Hmm? Why are you so fixated on a rendezvous that happened years ago?

MICHAEL

First, it was more than one rendezvous, as you put it. Second, it was six months ago. And finally, I am not fixated on it. I just find amusment in taunting you since it seems to bother you so much.

TANYA

You are such a child sometimes.

MICHAEL

Sometimes? No, my dear, more often than not. There’s no point in acting one’s age; it will simply make you suicidal.

(Awkward pause)

Oops. I suppose that wasn’t appropriate…

(Shrugs)

Oh well.

TANYA

(mutters)

Case in point

MICHAEL

Yea, I guess. Anyway, this conversation is getting boring.

(Moves to leave)

I think I’m gonna have a cigarette and find someone more interesting to talk to.

TANYA

Jerk.

(MICHAEL gets to the door, but stops at TANYA’s next line.)

Why do you think he did it?

MICHAEL

(Turns back to her slowly)

Because he was crazy.

TANYA

Do you really believe that?

MICHAEL

Well clearly you don’t.

TANYA

No, I do.

(Sighs)

I guess I just really wish there was another explanation

(Begins to tear up)

Why couldn’t I make him happy enough that he’d want to live? Why couldn’t I make him sane?

MICHAEL

Jesus.

(Crosses to TANYA and hugs her. Pulls back, forcing her to look up at him.)

You can’t blame yourself.

TANYA

I’m not blaming myself.

(Wipes at her eyes)

I just don’t understand why I couldn’t fix him.

MICHAEL

(Laughs shortly)

Honey, you women always seem to think you can fix us. If we’re fucked up, all you can do is love us or leave us. There’s no fixing involved. Now come on.

(Starts to lead her to the door)

Let’s go have a smoke. You look like you could use it.

(As they exit right)

Better yet, there’s a bar across the street.

Live At Five

This play was written and performed for the Feb. 26, 2012 Tabler 24-Hour Play Festival. Quon Duong played Jack, and Emily Kastner portrayed Lorelei.

A small town neighborhood in anywhere, U.S.A. Jack, a male reporter for a local news station, is reporting on yet another fire in a long string of suspected arson cases. The burned remnants are assumed to be in the background. No one is around except for one nondescript woman [Lorelei], “looking” at the charred remains of a house. Two chairs sit in the background, but pay no attention to them for now.

 

Jack: (pantomiming holding a microphone) This is Jack Chen reporting for Local News 11, Live at 5. We’re live at the scene of what police suspect may be yet another attack in the string of arson cases that have sprung up across town over the past few weeks.

(As Jack continues to talk, Lorelei notices him and surveys him from afar. She slowly creeps up to him as his report continues without him noticing.)

You can’t see it now, but just a few moments ago, this place was still crawling with firefighters and police officers. As you can see, the remains of the house are still smoldering slightly.

Lorelei: (she has come up directly behind him now) I like that word.

Jack: Sorry?

Lorelei: smoldering. It has such a fun sound.

Jack: (to unseen cameraman) Cut! (to Lorelei) Right, um, I’m in the middle of taping a report for the 5 o’clock news so…

Lorelei: I love the 5 o’clock. For channel 8?

Jack: No, 11. (thinks for a moment) Wait a minute, did you see the blaze?

Lorelei: Of course, I’ve been here since it started.

Jack: How would you like to be interviewed for the 5 o’clock news?

Lorelei: But I don’t like channel 11.

Jack: What difference does it make which channel it’s on? You’ll be on TV!

Lorelei: I suppose…

Jack: Fantastic. George, roll in 3, 2, 1. Jack Chen here, reporting for Local News 11. I’m live at the scene of the latest in a string of suspected arson cases with Miss… Hold it. What’s your name?

Lorelei: Lorelei.

Jack: I mean your full name.

Lorelei: Lorelei Esmeralda Gonzalez-Smith.

Jack: Alright, start it up again George. O, you didn’t stop. I’m Jack Chen, and I’m reporting for Local News 11 live at the scene of the latest in a string of suspected arson cases. Here with me is Lorelei Gonzalez-Smith, who witnessed the blaze. Miss Gonzalez-Smith-.

Lorelei: Please, call me Lorelei.

Jack: Fine, Lorelei. Can you tell me what you saw here?

Lorelei: There was a fire.

(Jack waits for her to continue. When he sees that she is not going to, he prompts her.)

Jack: Yes, and what else happened?

Lorelei: Well, what do you think happens when there’s a fire? There’s lots of smoke and flames. Ashes are flying through the air. And the little licks of flame build up and keep building…

Jack: Was there anyone in the house?

Lorelei: O no. I always make sure there’s no one at home.

Jack: Pardon?

Lorelei: Do you have any other questions? I think I left the stove on at my neighbor’s house.

Jack: How long did the police take to arrive?

Lorelei: Well, it was the firemen first. Sorry, firefighters. Wouldn’t want the women’s lib people on my ass. Anyway, they showed up and started hosing it down. Silly really. They didn’t even wait to see if it was a gas fire or a regular wood fire. You know, water doesn’t do anything to gas fires.

Jack: But the police…

Lorelei: Yes, yes. They came, too. Somebody sets a few fires accidentally on purpose and suddenly everyone’s up in arms about the smallest house fire. They’re actually quite common you know. In 2010 alone there was an estimated 362,100 fires. And that was just in residential buildings!

Jack: What do you know about the alleged arsonist?

Lorelei: You know I really have to go.

Jack: It’s you isn’t it? You’re the person who’s running around town burning everyone’s house down!

Lorelei: Now just a moment-

Jack: You nearly killed my sister’s cat! Not to mention my niece. Why are you doing this? Who do you think you are?

(He has been slowly backing Lorelei up toward stage left. At this last question, she stops and faces him squarely.)

Lorelei: I am Lorelei Esmeralda Gonzalez-Smith, and I can do what I damn well please! (She slaps/pushes him and takes the invisible microphone. Facing directly into the camera, she begins to speak.) Good evening, this is Lorelei reporting for Local News 11. Did you know that this has been taped even though I’m going to ensure you quite emphatically that it is not? I have to because I showed up long after the fire was put out, and to make it seem that I’m not completely incompetent as a journalist, I have to say that it’s simply because I was waiting for you, the audience, to join me. Not that anyone is actually watching this crappy channel anyway.

Jack: Give me that (The two struggle over the invisible microphone) George, put the damn camera down and help me. (He clearly does nothing) Are you still filming? (Jack is incredulous, and Lorelei manages to pull away as he angrily yells at the cameraman.)

Lorelei: I’m Jack Chen for News 11. I’m Jack Chen for News 11. I’m Jack Chen for News 11. Don’t you ever want to say anything else? Don’t you ever get tired of the same crappy job and the same crappy stories that no one cares about? Don’t you want to do anything more with your life?

Jack: I like my life just the way it is!

Lorelei: Then why have you been burning down people’s houses, Jack? (Jack freezes) I know what you’re thinking, ‘Well, I wasn’t expecting that.’ Don’t bother trying to run away.

(He looks as if that’s exactly what he’s about to do, but then he collects himself.)

Jack: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a good, upstanding citizen. I’ve never set fire intentionally to a house in my life.

Lorelei: Accidentally on purpose.

Jack: No, it wasn’t on purpose at all! I mean, I’ve never done that. It’s you! You’re trying to pin it on me. You’re trying to trick me, to trap me, to make me take the fall for you! I’m a journalist! I see right through you!

Lorelei: Jack, if you just remain calm, no one will hurt you.

Jack: You can’t arrest me. Even if I had done something wrong, which I haven’t. George, put that damn camera down!

Lorelei: He won’t. He’s not your cameraman. In fact, he’s not even there.

Jack: What do you mean he’s not there? Of course he’s there. He’s standing right in front of me. I can reach out and hit him. In fact, I think I will. (swings and hits empty air, throwing himself off balance to land on the ground.) What… What happened?

Lorelei: Jack, (crouches down beside him) Do you recognize me?

Jack: Yes, you’re Lorelei Esmeralda Gonzalez-Smith, the crazy woman I’ve been interviewing.

Lorelei: Close. You’re the crazy one. Do you know where we are?

Jack: My hometown. We’re standing outside the Spencer place about an hour after it burned down.

Lorelei: No, Jack. (She leads him to the chairs) We’re at the St. Eugene Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Jack: What? What? I don’t… (He begins to remember) No. No. O God no. Jasmine…. Tina… I didn’t… I didn’t mean…

Lorelei: Jack, calm down. It’s ok. I’m here with you. It’s alright. This is good. You’re remembering. You’re coming back to yourself.

Jack: I don’t want to come back to myself! I killed my sister, and my niece, and the cat… I burned down the house.

Lorelei: Was it on purpose?

Jack: Of course not! It was an accident.

Lorelei: How so?

Jack: I forgot to turn off the stove…

Lorelei: But you didn’t stop after that.

Jack: No, I…

Lorelei: You burned down three more houses, and at the last one, you were finally caught.

(Pause)

Jack: I always wanted to be a journalist.

Lorelei: But you couldn’t hack it.

Jack: No… Then, the fire… (He slowly stands and faces the audience. He is silent for several moments. Then, he pantomimes holding a microphone and begins to speak.) This is Jack Chen for Local News 11 reporting to you live at five.

Lorelei: (facepalms) Damn it.

Kicking With Honesty

By Jen Novotny

 I wrote this short scene one evening when I couldn’t sleep. I would like to expand it, but I also like it as is.

A college dorm party, complete with beer pong table and nonsensical music in the background. Set up is stage left. Stage right is in darkness. A few people dancing, playing beer pong, etc. Action begins when JESSICA and CHRISTINA bump into each other downstage. A few people stop to watch what happens, but most go about their business. More stop as scene continues.

JESSICA: Fancy seeing you here. How unfortunate

CHRISTINA: You could always leave.

JESSICA: Why? These are my friends. And I’m having such a lovely time. Other than the eyesore in the room, of course.

CHRISTINA: Huh?

GIRL: I think she means you.

CHRISTINA: What the fuck?

JESSICA: Should I be more blunt?

CHRISTINA: Why are you so jealous of me?

JESSICA: Jealous? [laughs] You’re so funny. You know who you remind me of? Kristen Stewart. Look like a crack whore. Noticeably absent personality. You think biting your lip is smiling. I’ll bet you liked Twilight didn’t you? You thought it was well-written and romantic, huh? It’s perfectly fine to like the books or even those god awful films in a guilty pleasure sort of way. So long as you recognize how bad they are.

CHRISTINA: What are you even talking about?

JESSICA: You. How much you disgust me. Maybe if you did something with your hair or wore attractive clothing… But even that wouldn’t give you a personality. Or acting ability. At least you’d be kind of pretty.

SEBASTIAN: Jess, cool it, yea?

JESSICA: You’re right. I should go. It’s been lovely, darling.

[As JESSICA walks toward the door, CHRISTINA grabs her arm and slaps her. JESSICA stands still for a moment, blinking slowly.]

JESSICA: That was so pathetic, I don’t know that it deserves a retaliation.

[Suddenly, JESSICA splashes her drink in CHRISTINA’s face and punches her. CHRISTINA falls to the ground.]

JESSICA: Sorry about the mess, Sebastian. I’d offer to clean it up, but I’d probably just end up hitting her again.

[She turns again to leave. CHRISTINA grabs her ankle and bites down. JESSICA screams, kicks out, launching CHRISTINA into the beer pong table.]

JESSICA: You little bitch! I was going to let you off easy, but now…

[JESSICA stalks towards CHRISTINA. Everyone is just standing and watching. JESSICA stops.]

JESSICA: Seriously? You guys are just going to stand there and let me continue beating the shit out of her? Do you hate her that much too or does humanity just suck more than I thought?

[JESSICA leaves. SEBASTIAN follows her. They don’t speak until they settle in the common room of JESSICA’s dorm on opposite side of the stage]

SEBASTIAN: Alright, what was that?

JESSICA: I can’t stand that chick [shrug]

SEBASTIAN: Why do you hate her so much?

[long pause]

JESSICA: She reminds me of me. How I used to be. In high school. Thinking I was the shit. No personality to speak of. No common sense. No real friends. And not even pretty because I didn’t know how to do it, but damn did I think I looked good. The visual representation of my fucked up perception. I hate her because she takes me back to those days. Worse. I feel sorry for her. I wanted to help her at one point. She wouldn’t let me. So now, I try to avoid her. But when we do come into contact… Well… Maybe I can kick some sense into her with honesty.

SEBASTIAN: Or your foot.

JESSICA: Whatever works.