Out From Under
Setting: A community park, dusk. In the middle of the stage there is an enormous rock - by which I mean a mountainous boulder - maybe ten feet high, and at least that wide. Got it? Such set pieces can often be found at discount boulder warehouses or on actual mountains. At the bottom, stage left side of the boulder, we see Walter, or rather Walter's head and his upstage arm. Cassie enters, she is in walking attire and wearing headphones.
Walter: (as she gets near) Excuse me... (sees head phones, says it louder) Excuse me, ma'am? (Cassie stops, looking around to see where the voice came from) Yes. Hello? Down... down here. Under the rock. Down... at the bottom of the rock. (Cassie, notices him, jumps back in shock, crying out)
Cassie: Oh my God! What... what...
W: Sorry... sorry... wasn't trying to frighten you...
(Cassie tears off her headphones, she is whimpering in fear and shock)
C: My God... my God... my God...
W: Sorry about all this... don't cry, please... hey... it's alright.... everything's fine. It's fine.
C: (inching toward him) Fine? It's... You're... fine? No... of course you aren't...
W: Well, I'm feeling a bit constricted... breathing should be easier than this, you know? Anyway, I was wondering if you couldn't just give me a hand here? Now you don't have to! I understand if you're busy or something; you know, don't let me get in the way of...
C: (pulling out her cellphone) I'll call 911!
W: Hey, hey, hey! Whoa there! No sense in getting the emergency folks involved. They have people to save and dangerous situations to deal with all the time. I'd hate to burden the system and waste their valuable time and taxpayer money just because I'm in a tight spot for a bit. No, I think we should be able to get me out from under this little boulder with a good plan and some real committment.
C: I have a plan; I'm calling 911!
W: Really, please... don't bother. I'm doing just fine. Let's just stop and think here; no point in getting all those flashing lights out here. It's all so... undignified in a way. Garish.
C: Hi, Walter, now listen, I'm not sure if...
W: And you are?
C: Sorry... rude of me... I'm Cassie. (moves to shake his available hand, but stops short, unsure if she should even touch him)
W: Oh, Cassie, you can shake my hand; I may be crushed under a large boulder, but it's not contagious! (laughs at his joke)
C: (she laughs but more nervously, then takes his hand and shakes it) Nice to meet you, Walter. How... how...
W: Did this happen?
C: I was going to ask how you can be in such good spirits at a time like this?
W: Ohh, what's the point in being negative? Just wouldn't make much sense at a time like this.
C: But... well... you know... you're... crushed ... under a massive boulder.
W: Well, I prefer to think of it as being crushed under a massive opportunity.
C: That's amazing... how did this happen then?
W: I pretty sure it was literary convention.
C: What? Literary?
W: Yes, literary convention... a commonly-accepted device used in writing that help to...
C: Right... that... I remember now... yeah, I know... literary convention...
W: Yes, that, and I suspect it was the big grandaddy of them all... (pause, expectant look to C)
W: Oh, I thought you might know... sorry... yes, anyway... metaphor. I think it may have been metaphor, the biggest grandaddy literary convention of them all.
C: So, metaphor trapped you under this boulder?
W: Well wait, if metaphor trapped me under the boulder then I was actually trapped by personification.
C: The metaphor is a person?
W: Well, metaphor is like a person in this case, if it trapped me, we are giving the metaphor human qualities, so the metaphor is personified.
C: Then what's the boulder?
W: In that case, it'd just be a boulder, I guess.
C: Right! So you're being crushed by a boulder. An actual boulder!
W: Yes, you're absolutely right... I thought, if I could explain away the literary convention behind my predicament, then I would just become untrapped... in a Deus-ex-machina sort of way.
C: Right, I get it, but that still leaves the boulder! Don't you see that?
W: I do now. I see and feel it.
C: So, can I call 911 now?
W: Well... have we exhausted all our options?
C: What options? You have to get this boulder off you!
W: We tried deconstruction, but that only seemed to construct a real boulder out of a possible metaphor.
C: I could push!
W: That's a great idea. You push here, by my free arm, and I'll push down here. It's great because it's totally non-ironic!
C: (straining to move the boulder) What do... you... mean?
W: (also straining) Well... everyone... would... expect someone... trapped... under a massive... boulder to... push against... the boulder...
C: (still straining) That's what... we're... doing.
W: (straining) Exactly! It's... non... ironic.
(With exhausted sighs, they both give up)
C: I can't move this by myself, Walter!
W: It's alright, Cassie. It's fine. We'll think of something else.
C: (starting to cry) I don't want to think of something else; I want to help you! I want to save you! Walter, I don't want you to die! I know it's a stupid thing for me to say, but, I think I love you, Walter. You've meant so much to me over the past four minutes, and I just want to save you from being crushed to death by this boulder! Let me call 911, Walter, please.
W: That's very sweet, Cassie. I don't know what to say. If I could get out of here... well...
(lights start fading as the sound of a powerful wind picks up)
C: Oh no! There's a storm coming in...
W: Fast too! Look!
(sound of branches breaking, wind volume up, C is moving around, panicked)
W: Cassie! Here, Cassie! I'll protect you! Come here, Cassie!
(final lights out as we see Cassie being pushed violently offstage by the wind, wind volume persists, then dies down, lights fade up, birds chirping. It's morning, everything same as before)
W: Well, still trapped... still crushed... still a boulder.
C: (lifting her head up from behind Walter's where she had been completely hidden) But now you're crushed on me. (kisses Walter on the ear) Morning, sunshine.
W: Told you it's better to look at it as an opportunity.
C: (playfully) You said getting crushed by a massive boulder wasn't contagious... liar.
W: I know, I know, mea culpa... Should we call 911 yet?
C: Well, that's your job; Mr. I-Have-One-Uncrushed-Arm, you lucky duck.
W: Ahh, let's wait a while... you feel so nice snuggled up like this.
C: Yeah... I have a distinct feeling we are going to have the best how-we-met story in the world.
W: (laughing) If we survive, of course! (more laughter)
C: Of course, of course! (more laughter)
W: Beautiful day. I love this park.
C: Yeah, a day full of the promise of new love.
W: Wonderfully put, Cassie.
C: Thank you, Walter.
(lights start fading)
W: You know, I kinda wish you'd gotten trapped in front of me right about now... if you know what I mean.
C: (flirtatious laugh) You naughty, naughty boy. I knew from the moment I saw you that you were a different type of man - stronger, forthright, bolder.
(laughter from both)
W: Delightful! Delightful!