Lend An Ear
Setting: Bare stage.
(Darkness, ghost lighting only. Eric in long trenchcoat approaches Nick who is standing center stage, trying to look nonchalant.)
Eric: (stage whisper) Hey. (louder) Hey, pal.
Nick: (whirls around) Stay back, I have a gun.
E: So do I. Settle down, this shall end without the perdition of souls.
N: What? Souls?
E: It's the twelfth, that's all.
E: So, Slits tells me you are in need of some merchandise.
N: Yes... I...
E: Say it, because you get nothing without an actual order.
N: I... I need an ear.
E: That's it?
N: Well, yeah... Ummm...
E: I mean, what kind of ear?
N: Oh... really? What kind?
E: Yeah, color, size, right or left, c'mon... are you slow?
N: No... No... I just didn't think about it a lot. I just need one... (points to his downstage ear) like this one, except for the other side.
E: Now you're talking. Not too hard, was it?
N: No... but... do you have one?
E: Let's check. (opens trenchcoat, ears everywhere of all shapes, sizes and colors, Eric examines Nick's ear) Let's see, looks like your standard adult Caucasian, about three inches, prominent lobe... ah, here we go.
N: That's it? You just know?
E: (getting angry) You questioning my ability to craft innovative solutions for all your appendage needs?! Huh!?
N: No! No! No! Not at all... I just...
E: Been a loan leader for over a decade. Not a finer ear man in the five county metroplex!
N: Sure! Sure... I just didn't think you'd get it so fast.
E: You got common ears, pal.
N: Well ear... the other one...
E: (holding up his hand) Ah, ah, ah, ah, aahhh! Do not tell me what happened to your other ear. I don't want to know. This knowledge only leads to trouble in my business.
N: Oh, well...
E: See, I've found it better in this line of work to not know my customers. It's a little counter to your standard business mantras, but this ain't a standard business. I don't want to know what happened to your ear. I don't want to know why you need another one. I didn't even ask you your name.
N: Oh, it's Nick.
E: Damnit! What'd you say that for!? It's nothing. I don't know your damn name. Understand?
N: Yeah. Sorry.
E: Just shut your speakhole, okay?
N: What do I owe you?
N: Wha... are you serious?
E: Yeah, nothing. I lend ears. You pay me back over time, either in installments, or in a big balloon payment at the end.
N: The end?
E: Yeah, you know, end of the loan period.
N: When is that?
E: Five years.
N: Five years?
E: Yeah, you pay in yearly installments or all at once at the end of the five years.
N: How much is the installment payment.
E: For that ear... uhhhh... Fifty a year.
N: Fifty dollars?
E: Ha! Fifty thousand, idiot. Fifty bucks? Jesus, you think I'm running a charity here? That's the ear value plus interest.
N: No... fifty thousand!?
E: What, you can't pay it?
N: I don' think so... no.
E: (takes ear back) Suit yourself.
N: I'm sorry.
E: Police are going be looking for a white guy about your size with his right ear missing.
N: What? How'd you know that!?
E: I repeat: you think I'm running a charity here? I have sources, lots of sources. They keep their ears to the ground; I keep'em happy.
N: But... I need that ear. I don't have fifty thousand dollars. I can't...
E: Well, there is another way. Installment plan.
N: Yeah, you just told me, fifty thou a year.
E: No. Other installments.
N: Yeah? What?
E: Well, once a year, you bring me a fresh ear.
N: An ear!!?
E: Five ears over five years. Easy to memorize, it even rhymes.
N: You're insane.
E: I always need fresh stock. Even if you can't pay, someone can. The more ears I got, the wider my customer base. The wider the customer base, the better chance that I get more paying customers.
N: But, I can't just find five ears...
E: Well, you can always save up and get them all at the end of the loan period. Five at once.
E: Seems to me you don't have much choice.
N: No. I can't do this.
E: Well, good luck finding another ear lender. I got the cheapest prices in town, and the body count shows that I'm the nicest, too.
N: You can't expect people to...
E: I don't expect them to cut off five ears. I expect them to pay. Some do.
E: Listen, I can tell you're struggling with the decision. Let me sweeten the deal for you: if you bring me an ear and that ear sells, I give you ten percent of my gross.
N: Ten percent? Of $250, 000?
E: That's if you bring me ears like yours. Kids' ears are worth a lot more, of course. A quality woman's ear can fetch up to half a million.
N: So, I should go for kids and women?
E: Bigger the score for me, the bigger the score for you.
N: You're sick!
E: And you're a couple days from jail for manslaugther at Freddy's Grill and Bar, on Fifth and Deiter. Victim, 32 year old male name of Shawn Kempers of 2412 Pollit Square, Apartment 515. Barfight turned real ugly, you never saw the switchblade 'til your ear hit the floor.
N: How did you...
E: An ear falls off in this city; I know about it before the bleeding's stopped.
N: I thought you never wanted to know who or what or...
E: Not for an easy sale. I knew you were desperate; I thought you would be easy.
N: Alright, fine. I'll do it.
E: (handing the ear back) Really?
E: Don't even think of absconding or trying not to pay, or you'll find yourself looking for a new pair of eyes, and maybe a new brain, if me or my associates get a bit too upset.
N: I'll pay! I'll pay. I'll pay.
E: Yeah. I know. Now how you going to get that ear on your head?
N: I was going to go to my doctor and...
E: No, you're not. You stupid? Get that thing to my doctor at Jim's Seafood in Ragtown. Ask Scott, the bartender, if the doctor is in. Go on Wednesday nights only. He'll get that sewn up real nice. Good as new. Keep it in the freezer until then.
N: Alright. Wednesday nights. Jim's Seafood. Ragtown.
E: Scott, the bartender. Don't forget.
E: Back to 719 Treefall Lane for you, Nick Amming.
N: How did...
E: You knew I knew. Better get home, pal; some real creeps out this time of night.
(they exit opposite ways as light fade)
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