Birthday party

Birthday party

A short (10 min play) play by Geetha Balvannanathan (geethap2007@hotmail.com)

17 September 2016

NGS Picture ID:1041366
Courtesy National Geographic

 

CHARACTERS

ERIC: SEEN AND HEARD, AN AGING MAN GRAPPLING WITH THE MEANING OF EXISTENCE AND LEFT ALONE ON HIS BIRTHDAY

BARTENDER: SEEN AND NOT HEARD, HE HAS PICKED ERIC OFF THE FLOOR OF HIS BAR COUNTLESS TIMES AND KEEPS WARNING HIM NOT TO DRINK TOO MUCH.

TWO ANGELS: NEITHER SEEN NOR HEARD BUT ERIC TRANSLATES THEIR COMMUNICATIONS

Setting: A bar initially and then a room which is dark and small.

Time: Beginning of evening

 

 

Opening scene in a dim lit bar. Eric is seated alone under a spotlight and drinking and then all of a sudden he drops face first on the table.

Lights go out.

Lights come back again only on Eric.

He is confused and trying to look all around him but can barely see anything.

 

ERIC:      (SPEAKING TO HIMSELF) Man, that was one heck of a drink. The doctors said I should not have anymore but I can still stomach a good one. And that stupid bartender. Well, that’s what happens when you become a creature of habit. You go to the same old bar and the barman starts to get chummy and the next thing you know he’s the preacher from the church doubled with your step-mother from hell freshly out of her grave with that pointing finger telling you not to drink or it’ll be the death of you.

(looks alarmed at something on his right) what the… who are you? Angels? You don’t look very much like Angels and what the heck… I’m dead? I’m dead! It’s my birthday. Christ! I cannot be dead! (turns back to the two angels and turns back to the audience) I’m dead! Just a drink or two and wham! I’m dead. Now what? You’re going to withdraw my license or ask me to walk on the straight line in the dark (snickering to himself)

What? I can keep the humour for later? Oh come on lads, you can take a good joke, can’t you? Can’t you? I mean come on Gabriel, Gab! I am sure you must have a great sense of humour…No… OK so where am I? Huh? In purgatory? Why purgatory? What am I doing here and why am I not in heaven? My wife and my mother always told me I was a good man. A good man who had gone wrong sometimes but a good man all the same.

What? I have to think of three good deeds during my lifetime and then I get to go to Heaven? Only three good deeds? You are sure? Three good deeds. Okay, okay. Three good deeds. I have done three good deeds. No problem. Three good deeds….

When you say three good deeds, you mean good as in good for whom. Huh? Good deeds are something that you do for someone else? Ok.. Three good deeds… Three good deeds…. Three good deeds. One two, three…. Three good deeds… Yeah coming coming. Geeze calm down. I’m getting there. Don’t worry, I’ll find three good deeds to talk about in those 8 minutes left. I thought in eternity you had no time and now you’re counting the minutes? What? This is purgatory, not heaven? It has almost the same rules as on Earth. Okay, okay okay. I am getting there.

(Scratches head, keeps thinking over and over but cannot find anything to say). Whaaaat? You’re already fed up? I’m just starting! One good deed is enough? Okay okay okay. I’m sure I’ve done one good deed in my life (raises voice again addressing the angels) I can hear you snickering over there. I really don’t find you very angel-like you know. You strike me rather as two gossiping women getting their back on someone. I did nothing to you fellas, why’re you taking it out on me. If you have a problem with your boss for overtime, take it out on him, not on me.

OK here we go. It was in 2011, 15 years ago. My 25 year-old nephew came to me and talked to me about this beautiful girl whom he loved dearly. She was such a poor and delicate thing. She was working very hard at Wallmart, was underpaid and was trying to graduate at the same time. I took pity on her and funded her so that she could be able to finish her education without having to go work at Wallmart anymore. How’s that for a good deed.

What do you mean that was not exactly a good deed? Okay okay okay. I slept with her but no harm in that. What do you mean I did give her the money but only because I made her my mistress. Why is that a bad thing? She had a sugar daddy taking care of her what else could she wish for? She did not have to work anymore and I gave her money for her siblings too… What do you mean I should have given him the money so that he could marry her and they would have both been happy. I had no problem with her marrying him at all. She could have married him if she wanted to. I was not the jealous type. After all, I was married myself so I would not blame her for being married. He neither. After all, he found her first (snickering to himself). What? He killed himself? Roger? Na… you got it all wrong. He killed himself way after she became my mistress and it was an accident, his car drove off the road, skid right off the road because of the ice on the road I think. It had nothing to do with me at all…What do you mean it had everything to do? What? He tried to kill himself many times and only succeeded that Christmas eve? I remember thinking how odd that he should have just drove off the road, it was not even a difficult bend for Roger who was such a great driver (his voice trails off)

I guess that one’s completely out, right?

Okay okay One good deed, one good deed, one good deed. Yes, got it. I remember the summer of 1983 Helen was giving birth to our first baby and I was of great help that night. What do you mean how? I gave energy and vigor to the midwife who helped Helen deliver. A wham slam in the pantry is hardly a good deed? Why not? She was energized, I was energized and God knows Helen was energized when I went to the room and took care of her and of our baby daughter. What the midwife? She delivered my child? Yes, my child so what? She delivered mine and Helen’s child. Not our child? Not Helen’s and mine but hers and mine? The midwife’s and mine? We had a child together? 7 years of trying to get Helen pregnant naturally and then another 5 long years with in vitro and with that one night wham bam the midwife had my child? Okay okay okay, that has to be a good deed right? You’re the ones that keep saying that children are a gift of God and have only good in their heart. If I brought that into the world then that must count as a good deed. She killed herself? Oh come on man. Gabriel? Gab! She killed herself? Why would she do that? The guilt?`! She was married? So what? I was married too.. She had a conscience. Oh please, don’t give me that conscience smoncience thing… (shakes his head as apparently the angels are not happy). Not a good deed….

Okay okay okay I got one. It was the spring of 1959 and there was this young thing. She was selling two different sets of cookies one to sponsor her scout club trip to Canada and the other one to contribute a gift for her mother’s wedding. I took both sets of cookies and she didn’t even have to beg me to. What do you mean I did not pay for them properly? She did not ask me to pay something specific. She just said give what your heart guides you to. Well my heart did not guide me to anywhere else than a penny at the time. She should have been more specific. Anyway, it is not like I stole them from her. That does count as a good deed doesn’t it? No? No! Okay. Okay. Okay.

Winter of 1969. I remember my fiancée Amy, she was crying. I really wanted to have some good time but her dad had just died a week ago and she was not in the mood and she started crying so I sat there listened to her cry and then consoled her. There, that is your good deed. Me, Eric, I triumphed over my bestial instincts and did a selfless act for another. What? It was not me? It was not me! You’re right! It was Philip, our neighbor. He had always been a good bloke. Always happy to help others. Even his wife, she was a very good woman. It was not me. I had left the apartment. I was angry she was not giving in and was upset. I remember… Amy.. I listened to her sobs from behind the door. I wanted to go in and take her in my arms and console her, tell her everything would be alright but I didn’t. I was just angry she could not put a lid on her feelings and be the sexy woman I had always known. I failed miserably. Amy… Then I went to the bar to drink. That’s how I started drinking every other day. The bartender sent me off saying I was too young to spoil my night drinking myself silly. I went back to the apartment and Philip was there consoling her. At the time I was too drunk. I thought he was seducing her. I was hateful. I told her so many awful things. Amy… I do not deserve to go to heaven. I think you should put me straight in hell. That’s all I deserve. I cannot think of one good deed that I did. Amy….Why? Amy.. If only…What? You can’t decide? Another test? Go back? Go back where?

 

Lights go off, thunder resounds. Lights come back and Eric finds himself back in the bar with the same bartender

 

Back here with him. What use. Stirring up all those feelings and coming back to this lonely birthday party with no party in it. What do you mean what birthday party young man. Can’t you see? It’s the old villainous Eric as you usually say. What do you mean what old. It’s me! Eric! Sir? Sir? You’re calling me sir? You’ve lifted my old carcass off the floor so many times and thrown me out of here and you’re calling me sir. What old? Me! (turns towards the mirror at the bar) Oh my oh my! Yes! (addresses himself). You sexy beast! (runs out of the bar yelling at the top of his lungs) Amyyyyy… here I come!!!

 

The song plays in the background “I believe in miracles, you sexy babe, you sexy babe”…

 

You Sexy Thing (I Believe in Miracles) by Hot Chocolate

 

 

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