Friday, December 01, 2006

Death's Secret 'Stache

Characters:
Death (a skeleton)
Mrs. Death (his wife)
Daughter (their daughter)

In the kitchen of DEATH and MRS. DEATH. Think of the characters like Santa and Mrs. Claus...if they were skeletons...jolly, happy, etc. Mrs. Death is futzing: preparing breakfast. The couple has been married for thousands of years. They are fine with quiet moments in which no one is talking. Death comes running in carrying a manila envelope.

Death: It’s here It’s here It’s here

He waves the envelope.

Mrs. Death: What’s here, dear?

Death: My...(he pulls it from the envelope with a flourish)...moustache

He puts it on his face. It covers his lip and hangs down on both sides of his mouth.

Death: (continued) Do you have a mirror?

Mrs. Death: You’re Death, dear. Death doesn’t wear a moustache.

Death: Why not?

Mrs. Death: Statistics say that men with moustaches are 75 % less trustworthy than a clean shaven man.

Death: And 45% of all statistics are made up by wives to keep their husbands from doing what they want.

Mrs. Death: Oh, that’s not true.

Death: Right, it’s probably 60 %.

She stops her futzing to look at him. He poses for her.

Mrs. Death: You look very silly.

Death: I want to see. Do you have a mirror?

Mrs. Death: Look in my purse. I think there’s one.

Death: Your purse?

Mrs. Death: (she finds her bag and hands it to him.) Here you go, dear.

He takes it as if it’s carrying the black plague.

Death: Why don’t you look in it?

Mrs. Death: I’m not the one who wants a mirror.

Pause. Death stares at the purse.

Death: I don’t want to go looking in your purse.

Mrs. Death: Why not?

Death: I’m afraid of what I might find in there.

Mrs. Death: There’s nothing bad in there...nothing untoward.

Death: (mumbling, not thinking she’s listening) Mostly I’m afraid I’ll find my own testicles in there.

Mrs. Death: Oh, honey, you’re a skeleton.

Pause. Finally he digs around in her bag.

Death: Ugh, what the...oh, a walnut.

Mrs. Death: What’s that, dear?

Death: I found a walnut.

Mrs. Death: That’s nice.

Pause

Death: Why do you have a walnut in your purse?

Mrs. Death: To feed the squirrels.

Pause. Death finds the mirror and pulls it out. He looks at himself.

Death: The color’s a bit lighter than it looked in the catalogue.

He straightens the moustache and looks at himself.

Death: (continued) I was sure I ordered the medium brown. Does this look like medium brown to you?

Mrs. Death: (without looking) Maybe it’s burnt umber.

Death takes the moustache off and tries wearing it as a long pair of eyebrows.

Death: Isn’t that the same as medium brown?

Mrs. Death: Hmm...I don’t think so. I think that’s burnt sienna.

Death: You’re probably right.

Mrs. Death: If you think so, dear.

Pause.

Death: It’s been a long time since I’ve had facial hair.

Mrs. Death: You’re an anthropomorphic being, Dear. You’ve never had facial hair.

Death: Didn’t I? I was sure I did once. Early stages? Maybe in a Dali painting?

Mrs. Death: I don’t think Dali ever painted you.

Pause. Death tries the moustache as a goatee. As he looks at himself in the mirror, DAUGHTER walks in. She is ready to go to school, dressed, has her bag, an MP3 player, etc.

Mrs. Death: (sing-song) Good morning

Mrs. Death kisses Daughter on the head. When Daughter sees Death with his moustache, she stops dead in her tracks.

Daughter: Hi D[ad]...(she stops, stunned) Oh, God, Mom What’s Dad got on his face?

Death: (absently, still wearing it as a goatee and looking in the mirror) It’s a moustache.

Daughter: On your chin?

Mrs. Death: We think it’s burnt umber, sweetie. Do you want pancakes for breakfast?

Daughter: Mom, you’re not gonna let Dad wear a moustache are you?

Mrs. Death: We’re discussing it. (Quietly mouthing to Daughter:) No.

He puts it back on as a moustache.

Death: It’s my moustache.

Mrs. Death: Whatever you say, dear. Now what about those pancakes?

Daughter: Nah, just juice today.

Death: (to himself...the others ignore him) I don’t think we need to be discussing...

Mrs. Death: We don’t want you wasting away. You need to eat at least one pancake... and a sausage.

Daughter: Okay, one pancake, but no sausage. I’m a vegetarian now, remember.

Mrs. Death: They’re soy-sausages.

Death: (turning around to where Mrs. Death is cooking) Oh, I hate those

Mrs. Death: They’re healthy, dear.

Death: Look, I’m Death, okay? I’m thousands of years old, I’m a 7 foot tall (5 foot 10) skeleton, I reap souls of the living and bring them to the land of the dead... I don’t have to worry about cholesterol... I can eat sausages and wear moustaches if I want. I’m DEATH for the love of Pete

Mrs. Death: Of course, you are, Dear. (Beat) Now how many sausages do you want?

Death: Five.

Mrs. Death: Three dear?

Death: Five. I said five.

Mrs. Death: Did you say three...because three is a recommended serving according to the box.

Death: (defeated–but not demoralized) Three.

Mrs. Death: That’s what I thought you said. Now, are you going to take that thing off before you eat?

Death: (feigning confusion) What, my cowl?

Mrs. Death: No dear, the moustache.

Pause.

Death: Well, no. I think I can eat with it on.

Daughter: I don’t think the rest of us can.

Mrs. Death: Why don’t you save it for after breakfast. We wouldn’t want it to get greasy, now, would we?

Death: (mostly to himself) They’re soy sausages, how greasy can they be?

Pause. Mrs. Death cooks. Death arranges his moustache. Daughter listens to music and pours a glass of juice. Mrs. Death sets a plate of pancakes on the table.

Mrs. Death: Piping hot, HOTcakes

A car horn honks.

Daughter: My ride’s here Gotta go.

Mrs. Death: Take a pancake.

Daughter: No time.

Mrs. Death: There’s always time for a healthy breakfast, isn’t that right, Dear?

Death picks up a pancake and throws it to Daughter. She catches it and heads out the door.

Daughter: Thanks, Dad. Bye, Mom

She exits.

Mrs. Death: (sing-song) Got my pancakes made with love...got my sausage...and some salt...not too much. (Sigh) I miss the days we all used to sit around the table together.

Pause.

Mrs. Death (continued): Don’t you miss those days, dear? I’m sure you do.

Pause.

Mrs. Death (continued): Do you really need that thing, dear?

Death: I need a moustache.

Mrs. Death: Like you needed that lawnmower? We don’t even have a lawn.

Death: I need this moustache.

Mrs. Death: People are less inclined to trust a man with a...

Death: I’m Death

Mrs. Death: I know that, dear.

Death: But do they? (He points off stage) Do they know I’m Death?

Mrs. Death: The Clarks? I’m sure they do, it’s on the postbox.

Death: Not the Clarks, everyone. Everyone out there. They’re no longer shocked by me. They no longer tremble with fear and awe.

Mrs. Death: That’s because you’re a very nice man, Dear.

Death: No, I’m not I’m not nice I’m Death Just...just because they see me on their televisions, in movies, on their video games. They read statistics about how many of their fellow men died and do you know they say? They say, (in a different voice) “that ad said butter is on sale at the grocers; we should go tomorrow.” (His own voice again) No one blinks twice at death on the tv. Murders every night at nine/eight central. They walk down the street talking on their cell phones saying offhandedly, (a sorority girl voice) “I watched the news the other night, people died n’ stuff.” (His own voice) I need a moustache to bring back the fear and awe. People are more afraid of bad moustaches than of Death himself.

Pause. He puts his head down on the table. Mrs. Death walks over and pats him gently on the back.

Mrs. Death: Oh honey, they’re still afraid of you on an individual basis.

Death: (not looking up) No they’re not.

Mrs. Death: Yes they are. Why, just the other day I overheard Mr. Clark say, “Boy, living next door to Death really creeps me out.”

Death: (looking up) Really?

Mrs. Death: Of course, really. (Mrs. Death touches him softly on his face) When do I ever use the phrase “creep me out” unless I’m quoting directly?

Death: They’re still afraid of me? Promise?

Mrs. Death: I promise. Ask any one of them if they’re not afraid of Death. Especially if you ask them, Dear. They’ll be shaking in their platform shoes.

Death: That was the 70's.

Mrs. Death: So was that moustache. Anyway, what I’m saying is that you don’t need a moustache. You’re terrifying enough as is.

Death: You’re right. (His confidence returning) Where’s my scythe?

Mrs. Death opens up a cupboard, his scythe is next to the broom and the mop.

Mrs. Death: Here you are dear.

He takes the scythe from her. He takes off the moustache and hands it to Mrs. Death. He stands in all his skeletal glory, and turns to the audience...

Death: Are you afraid of Death?

Death moves forward. Lights out behind him so that the stage can be set for the next scene. Death’s shoulders slump. His enthusiasm is waning. He talks to the audience.

Death: Did you know that more people are afraid of public speaking than of death? People would rather keel over than give a three minute speech. If you ask someone what they’re afraid of you’d be surprised how low on the list death will appear. They’ll list different things... Spiders. Snakes. Flying. Heights. “What about death?” you ask, “Oh, yes, sure. Put that on the list, too.”

This bothers me. I mean, I’m a frightening character. Look at me You should fear me. (Pause) Or at least put me higher on the list. Sure, being married has really mellowed me out...but you people rarely give me a second thought. That’s why you always say it was “too sudden”. How can it be sudden? You know it’s coming. You always know it’s around the corner. You don’t know if you’ll have enough money to buy a house. You don’t know if you’ll get that trip to Disneyland, but you know...YOU KNOW...you’re going to die. Eventually.

Okay, you don’t have to be all mopey about it. You don’t have to pine. But could you just stop once in a while and think about me?

Death takes his scythe and exits.

3 comments:

Sally said...

This rocks.

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Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I was able to see this. You are too funny...
PS