October 7, 2006

A Play A Day #177

Wait And Switch

The Gallery

Setting: Execution room, electric chair, prominent switch on wall, phone with red light nearby, a row of chairs in which sits the gallery, those witnessing the execution, about 8-10 people, members of victims' families and family of Red, the condemned man. The gallery members are seated behind a large wall with plate glass window, this, of course, can be simply suggested and not actually constructed.

(Gallery are seated, some are crying quietly, Wiggy slumps against wall between switch and phone, enter Nate and Priest escorting Red, who is not shackled.)

Nate: This way.

Priest: The peace of the Lord preserve your soul and forgive all your sins.

(Wiggy and Nate start strapping Red into the chair, hooking everything up, they do this professionally but with a little bit of impatience.)

Priest: In front of these witnesses, Red, do you have any last words?

Red: (with subdued anger and conviction) I'm innocent! I didn't do any of the things they say! I'm innocent! I'm going to wak! The Governor's gonna call; any second that phone's gonna ring! He's gonna call, damnit! The had no real evidence against me! The Governor's a smart man; he'll call here! I'm innocent! I didn't do it! I didn't, Father, you gotta believe me!

Priest: Only God has the power to save your soul now, Red. (Priest backs up against the wall, he is a witness)

Wiggy: That about does it, Nate. Everything look good on your end.

Nate: Damnit, Wiggy, don't use real names in the chamber!

Wiggy: Oops, sorry, Nate. Forgot about that.

Nate: You did it again, Wiggy!

Wiggy: You coulda just pretended is wasn't your real name, you know.

Nate: Shit. Uhh... sorry, Padre. You're right, Wiggy, I coulda done that. That was stupid.

Wiggy: Don't worry about it, (exaggerated wink and air quotes) "Nate"; I'll be careful, 'cause we wouldn't want this guy getting pardoned or something and then getting out and telling all his buddies to kill "Nate" and "Wiggy".

Nate: Good point, (wink and air quotes) "Wiggy".

Red: Would you two shut the hell up!? I've been on death row three years; I know your damn names.

Nate: Well, well, look who's a little bitter today.

Wiggy: So touchy.

Red: I'm innocent, you dumbshits, that phone's gonna ring. I know it; any moment now.

(long pause, the three of them stare at the phone)

Nate: Well, let's... (phone rings, Red reacts with great relief, mixed shock and relief from the gallery, depending on who they are, lots of quiet adlibs, Wiggy answers phone)

Wiggy: Electric Company, Wiggy here. (listens) Oh hi, Mom! Say... yes... I know... she... she told me... well... no, I don't like asparagus, Mom... yeah, I know, Mom... say, listen... right, right.... right... right... yep... okay, but... no, Mom... (quieting down a bit) Of course, Mom, yes, I do... I do love you... Mom, I'm not taking sides here... (loud annoyed coughs from Priest, Nate) Listen, get what you want, Mom... I'll eat just about anything... I gotta... I gotta... Mom! I have to go now. No... no... I'm not shouting at you, Mom... ohh... listen, don't be like that... no... Mom... Mom... don't cry... no... I have to go, Mom... ye... yes... Mom... okay, yes, of course, of course, yes, yes... talk to you later... goodbye, Mom... love you too.

(Hangs up, everyone looks at him for a while)

Wiggy: (clapping hands together) Well! Where were we? (looks at Red) Ahh! Yes, one convict, over-easy! (small laugh, Nate chuckles a bit too)

Priest: Gentlemen... please.

Nate: Sorry, your holiness. Wiggy.... your mom?

Wiggy: Sorry, she likes to know that she can reach me anywhere... I had to give her the number.

Nate: Alright, back to business...

(Wiggy steps to the switch, phone rings. Reactions all around)

Wiggy: Switch and Twitch, this is Wiggy. What? No... I'm sorry... no... no... we don't deliver... trust me, lady, you don't want what we're cookin' up... yeah... sorry.. hey, that's alright... 6931... right... yeah, I think that's right... 9631... that's the right one. Hey, thanks for calling. Bye now.

Nate: Alfonzo's Pizza?

Wiggy: Yep, again, we should see about getting it changed, so it's not so close.

Nate: Yeah. Might be a good idea.

Wiggy: Hate to think that the Governor'd just order up a deep dish pardon with extra cheese.

Nate: Ha! Good one, man! Deep dish... ohhh...

Red: Stop jerking me around! Just kill me, damnit!!

Wiggy: Hey, who died and put you in charge, Thuggy McKillerson?

Red: Just do it, you cruel, cruel bastards!

Nate: Well, someone's being a little over-dramatic.

(phone rings, reactions are more of despair this time)

Wiggy: Wiggy's Barbeque, we bake 'em from the inside, Wiggy here. Yes? Yes! Let him out, sir? Take a walk? Yes, sir! Right away! Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!

(Of course, Red is more than gleeful and relieved)

Nate: Was that...?

Wiggy: Yep... Warden says I have to take the new guard dog for a walk; soon as we're done here.

(Red is crying and pissed off)

Nate: Ohhh, man! You're so lucky! That new dog is the cutest little thing!

Wiggy: Yeah, I know... so fuzzy!

Nate: You're such the little warden's pet, Wiggy!


Nate: (to Red) Easy for you to say, you don't have to clean up when it's over!

Wiggy: Haha! I'll be walking the puppy, and you got scraper duty!

Priest: Gentlemen! This is most ungracious! I insist that we end this poor man's suffering now.

Wiggy: Whatever you say, Mr. God sir! If you haven't noticed we been pretty busy with the phone calls and stuff.

(Priest puts head in hands, shaking his head)

Nate: Alright, alright...

(phone rings)

Wiggy: Wiggy's Short-Term Counseling, One Session's All You Need, this is Wiggy. Oh, hey! Yeah, yeah... sure I remember you... sure I do... did I give you this number? Whoa... sorry, shouldn't have done that... Yeah, I was a little out of it, I guess... It's... uhhh... Saveena right? (Red snaps his head up) Well... like I said...

(The following lines can overlap as much as the actors want)

Red: Saveena?!!

Wiggy: I remember you...

Red: Saveena??!!

Wiggy: It's not a very common name, is it?

Red: Saveena!!

Wiggy: (quieter, his voice becoming more sexual) Yes... I remember that...

Red: Saveena!! It's Red!

Wiggy: Who wouldn't... I mean...

Red: You said you'd be here, baby!

Wiggy: Not many women can do that...

Red: Why are you calling this moron, baby!?

Wiggy: Yeah... well, I'm sorta busy right now...

Red: That's my wife, you bastard!! My wife!!!

Wiggy: Then I gotta walk the new guard dog...

Red: Saveena!! Where are you!?

Wiggy: Oh... you should see him... the new dog...

Red: Come down to the jail, honey!! I need to see you!!

Wiggy: Just adorable...

Red: I want to see you... one last time!

Wiggy: What? You're just in town until tomorrow?

Red: Let me talk to her, you son of a bitch!!!

Wiggy: The Delancey Motel? Yeah...

Red: Give! Me! That! Phone!

Wiggy: Sure I know where that is. (Nate taps him on the shoulder and whispers in his ear) Hold on... (listens to Nate, realizes what's going on) Uhhh... Saveena... you're not going to believe this... yeah... apparently your husband is here... yeah, Red? Yep, big guy, electric wires connected to his skull, yeah, scowls a lot, that's him... What? No, I'm sorry... didn't I tell you last night where I worked? Sorry, about that... Yeah, I had one, or two, too many... (laughs) Ohh, that's so cute... thank you... (Nate motions to Red who is simply seething at this point) Oh.... right... well, Red wants to talk to you... no, I don't know what about... just wants to talk to you, I guess... is that okay? (pause) Uh huh... okay, here, I'll give him the phone... yep... okay... here ya go... (Wiggy stretches the phone as far as it goes, but the cord doesn't reach, lots of bizarre over-stretching and attempts to help get the phone to him, lots of adlibbing, Red shouting toward the phone for his wife to hear, everyone eventually gives up)

Red: You! Fucking! Bastards!

Wiggy: (back on phone) Well, that's not gonna work... cord doesn't reach... Ummm... So, what room are you in? (Red starts going ballistic in the chair, straining beyond belief, swearing, grunting, sweating) Great, 141, I'll be there... around 5:30... (looks at Red) Well, hey, Saveena, I better get going here.... looks like your husband is going to kill me! (Small laugh) Yes, looking forward to it! Bye!

Red: You! Fucking! Bastards!

(Priest is slumped and crying and praying by now)

Wiggy: Hey, Nate... guess who's got a hot date tonight!

Nate: Way to go, partner!

Wiggy: This chick puts out too; you should see her ass! Yewooch!

Red: (still straining against the bonds) I'm going to kill you! You bastard! Keep your goddamn hands off my wife!!

Wiggy: Uh-oh... sorry, Red. You gotta let her move on, man.

Red: (grunting) She's my wife!!

Wiggy: (very quickly now, moving to the switch) Hey! Not any more! (throws switch, nothing happens)

Nate: Dude, the hood!

Wiggy: (throwing switch up and down, Red, of course, watches this all and is nearly vomiting with nerves) C'mon, c'mon, work damnit!

Nate: (keeps lunching toward Red with the hood, but pulls back as soon as the switch is thrown up, moves forward with hood ready, pulls back, for as many times as Wiggy throws the switch, saying the following in rhythm with the switch and his lunges toward Red) Dude! Wait! The Hood! The Hood! Wiggy! (Wiggy finally stops)

Wiggy: Oh... check it out... (walks over behind the chair, Red strains all the more as Wiggy gets closer) Whoa, whoa... patience there, Red... we'll get to you. (holding up extension cord) Forgot to plug you in! Never done that before! Hey, hey... is there egg on my face? Sorry, about that... not very professional of me, I know.

Nate: Now, let me get the hood on. (does so)

Wiggy: Alright, are we set here... I want to get going... big date tonight! Gonna have to shower to get that burnt human smell outta my hair.

Nate: Looks good from over here.

(phone rings)

Wiggy: Execution Basement; 75% off Death This Weekend! Oh hi, Mom... Yes... no... it's not important, Mom... no... I am grateful for the free meal... but... no... Mom, broccoli's fine... but, Mom... (Nate signals him to pull the switch already, Wiggy does so, it works this time) it's just that... no... I've got a date... after work, Mom... yes... I know I said I'd be there for supper... no, Mom... of course, I... yes, I love you, Mom... no, she seems like a real special woman, Mom... just like... no... Mom! (looks at Red twitching) No, she's definitely not married, Mom... I don't know... I'll stop by tomorrow night... we can eat the pot roast then, Mom... just put in the fridge... I'll be there, Mom... I promise... (Nate signals him to stop, Wiggy does so.) It'll taste fine... it will, Mom... Yes... love you too, Mom, bye bye. (hangs up)

Nate: (checking Red's body) It's all done.

Wiggy: (checking Red's body) Hmmm... I've done better... well, time to go... gotta walk that pup.

Nate: Hey, Wiggy... (points at phone) Why's it doing that?

Wiggy: (almost out of the room, in a hurry, turns around and see the red light is blinking on the phone) Ohh... hey... we got a voice mail message! Just had that installed last week. Musta been a call came in when I was talking to my Mom. I'll check it on Monday. (Wiggy heads out quickly)

Nate: (shrugs his shoulder, turns to the gallery, plays the cop) Alright folks! Nothing to see here... go on... you gotta pay for another show, people... (gallery files out, Nate turns back to his job) Better get a new Glade Plug-In... phheeewww!

(lights out as Nate goes about his job, priest crawls out of the room, eventually just the phone's red voicemail light blinks in the darkness)


No comments: