Waiting for Vaccine

ACT I

An apartment. A couch.

Evening.

Walt sits on the couch.

Enter Eddie, wearing a face mask.

Eddie tries to take off his face mask. He gives up, exhausted, then tries again

EDDIE:   Nothing to be done.

WALT:   I’m beginning to come around to that opinion. Let me embrace you.

EDDIE:   Six feet!

WALT:   Yes. May one inquire where you’ve been?

EDDIE:   The supermarket.

WALT:   And they beat you?

EDDIE:   Certainly, they beat me.

WALT:   For what?

EDDIE:   I tried to take the last box of oatmeal.

WALT:   You should’ve ordered from Amazon. On the other hand, we should’ve stocked up on dry goods a million years ago, in 2019.

EDDIE:   Stop blathering and help me off with this thing.

                                Eddie tears at his face mask.

WALT:   What are you doing?

EDDIE:   Taking off my mask. Help me!

WALT:   Six feet!

EDDIE:   Ah!

WALT:   It hurts?

EDDIE:   (angrily) Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!

WALT:   No one ever suffers but you. I don’t count. I’d like to hear what you’d say if you had what I have.

EDDIE:   It hurts?

WALT:   Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!

EDDIE:   You should get tested.

WALT:   You too!

EDDIE:   Let’s go then.

WALT:   We can’t.

EDDIE:   Why not?

WALT:   We’re waiting for a vaccine.

EDDIE:   And if there’s none?

WALT:   We’ll wait until next month.

EDDIE:   And then the month after that?

WALT:   Possibly.

EDDIE:   And so on.

WALT:   The point is-

EDDIE:   You’re merciless.

                               With supreme effort, Eddie succeeds in pulling off his mask.

WALT:   Try and put it on again.

EDDIE:   I’ll air it for a bit.

                                Eddie tosses the face mask on the ground.

                                Silence.

WALT:   What do we do now?

EDDIE:   What about hanging ourselves?

WALT:   Hmm. It’d give us a headache.

EDDIE    An headache! Let’s hang ourselves immediately.

WALT:   It might be contagious.

EDDIE:   The headache or the hanging?

WALT:   I’m not sure. Let’s not do anything. It’s safer.

                                A knock on the door.

EDDIE:   Enter.

                                The Government Employee opens the door and enters, timidly.

G.E.:      Mister Walter…?

WALT:   Yes.

                               The Government Employee does not move.

EDDIE:   What do you want?

G.E.:      The vaccine…

WALT:   You have a message about the vaccine?

G.E.:      Yes, Sir.

EDDIE:   What kept you so late?

G.E.:      It’s not my fault, Sir.

EDDIE:   And whose is it? Mine?

G.E.:      I was afraid, Sir.

EDDIE:   Of what? Of us?

                                The Government Employee hesitates.

WALT:   You work for the authorities?

G.E.:      Yes, Sir.

WALT:   What do you do?

G.E.:      I count the cases, Sir.

WALT:   They don’t beat you?

G.E.:      No, Sir, not me.

WALT:   Whom do they beat?

G.E.:      They beat my brother, Sir.

WALT:   What does he do?

G.E.:      He counts the deaths.

WALT:   Why don’t they beat you?

G.E.:      I don’t know, Sir.

WALT:   They must be fond of you.

G.E.:      The vaccine… (He hesitates.)

WALT:   Speak!

G.E.:      The vaccine won’t be ready this month but surely next.

                                The Government Employee turns and runs out the door.

EDDIE:   All we have to do is wait here.

WALT:   There’s nothing more to do here.

EDDIE:   Nor anywhere else.

WALT:   It might be better if we parted.

EDDIE:   It’s not worthwhile now.

WALT:   Well, shall we go outside?

EDDIE:   Yes, let’s go outside.

                                They do not move.

Curtain.

ACT II

Next Month. Same time.

Same place.

Eddie’s face mask front and center on the floor.

Enter Walt. He halts before the face mask, picks it up, examines it, sniffs it, manifests disgust, puts it back carefully.

Enter Eddie.

WALT:   You again! Come here till I embrace you.

EDDIE:   Don’t touch me!

                                Walt holds back, pained.

WALT:   Do you want me to go away? Did they beat you?

EDDIE:   Don’t touch me! Don’t question me! Don’t speak to me!

WALT:   Who beat you? Tell me.

EDDIE:   Another month over and done with.

WALT:   And here we are again.

EDDIE:   You feel worse when I’m with you. I feel better alone too.

WALT:   Then why do you always come back?

EDDIE:   I don’t know. It would be better if we parted.

WALT:   It’s because you don’t know how to defend yourself. Why did they beat you?

EDDIE:   I don’t know. For the oatmeal.

WALT:   You must be happy now. To be back with me again.

EDDIE:   What am I to say to that?

WALT:   Say, I am happy.

EDDIE:   I am happy.

WALT:   We are happy.

EDDIE:   We are happy. What do we do now that we are happy?

WALT:   Wait for a vaccine.

EDDIE:   Ah!

                               Silence.

WALT:   This is awful.

EDDIE:   We could watch Tiger King.

WALT:   We tried that. We could’ve done without it.

                               Silence.

EDDIE:   I’m tired.

                                Eddie picks up the face mask, sits on the couch.

WALT:   Let’s not waste out time in idle discourse. Let’s do something! What are we doing here? That is the question. And we are blessed that we know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear, we are waiting for a vaccine.

EDDIE:  I’m beginning to weary of this motif.

                                Eddie puts on the face mask over his eyes, dozes off.

                                A knock on the door.

WALT:   Enter.

                                The Government Employee enters and halts.

G.E.:      Mister… Mister Walter…?

WALT:   Do you not recognize me?

G.E.:      No, Sir.

WALT:   Didn’t you come last month?

G.E.:      No, Sir.

WALT:   You have a message about the vaccine?

G.E.:      It won’t be ready this month.

WALT:   But it will be ready next month?

G.E.:      Yes, Sir.

WALT:   Without fail?

G.E.:      Yes, Sir.

WALT:   Is the vaccine in trials? Has it been approved?

G.E.:      I don’t know, Sir.

WALT:   How is your brother?

G.E.:      He’s sick, Sir.

WALT:   Perhaps it was he who came last month?

G.E.:      I don’t know, Sir.

WALT:   This vaccine, will it make us immune?

G.E.:      I don’t know, Sir.

WALT:   Christ have mercy on us!

                                Silence.

G.E.:      What am I to tell the authorities, Sir?

WALT:   Tell them… tell them that you saw me and… (Walt advances. The Government Employee recoils.) You’re sure that you saw me! You won’t come and tell me next month that you never saw me!

                               Walt springs forward.

                               The Government Employee avoids him and exits running.

                               Eddie wakes and lowers his face mask.

EDDIE:   What’s wrong with you?

WALT:   Nothing.

EDDIE:   I’m going.

WALT:   So am I.

EDDIE:   Far away from here.

WALT:   We can’t.

EDDIE:   Why not?

WALT:   We’re waiting for a vaccine.

EDDIE:   Ah. They don’t have one yet?

WALT:   No.

EDDIE:   Why don’t we hang ourselves?

WALT:   The headache.

EDDIE:   It’s contagious?

WALT:   Or the hanging.

                                Silence.

EDDIE:   I can’t go on like this.

WALT:   That’s what you think.

EDDIE:   If we parted, that might be better for us.

WALT:   We’ll hang ourselves next month. Unless there’s a vaccine.

EDDIE:   And if there’s a vaccine?

WALT:   We’ll be saved.

                                Silence.

EDDIE:   Shall we go outside?

WALT:   Yes, let’s go outside.

                                They do not move.

Curtain.

As always, my novel is available here: The Last Island

Tartuffe of the Upper East Side

Tartuffe by Moliere

A Play in One Act

A luxurious penthouse.

DORINE              

Should we wake him, Laurent? It’s nearly noon.

LAURENT           

Leave him be and let snoring be his tune.
We can hope he falls into a coma.
On this planet, he’s a melanoma.

DORINE              

You take him too seriously, I’m afraid.
When all he does is get drunk and get laid.

LAURENT           

I don’t care that he drinks himself blotto
While pretending to pray in a grotto.
It’s when he claims that his frivolities
Are the result of innate qualities
That I want to drag him from this gilded cage
And make him live on our pay, minimum wage.

Continue reading “Tartuffe of the Upper East Side”

Prostitutes and Playwrights (Again)

What do Prostitutes and Playwrights have in common?

According to my Hollywood Agent, quite a lot.

Check out the full conversation at IrishCentral.com.