Depo

OR, Tongue Depressors

A Play in One Act

by

Dustin Hansen

dustin@silentmouth.com


Cast of Characters

Woman In her sixties, grandmother to GIRL.
Man In his fifties, father to BOY.
Girl Around age twelve.
Boy Around age eight.
Bus driver  
Persons 5-8 Strangers. Note: though I picture PERSON 5 and PERSON 8 as male, PERSON 6 and PERSON 7 as female, these sleeping characters’ genders and ages are open to interpretation.

Scene

A bus. Eight passengers and driver. City.

Time

Late.


SETTING: The bus.
AT RISE: WOMAN showing photo album to GIRL. MAN philosophizing to BOY. The other four passengers asleep. BUS DRIVER watching road, nodding off. Note: DRIVER nods off throughout.

WOMAN

And that’s your uncle. Uncle Alfred. Do you remember him? Did you ever meet him?

MAN

You see? The world is divided up into yessers and noers. Pessimists and optimists.

WOMAN

Well, he was your uncle.

MAN

Have-beens and would-be’s.

WOMAN

I’m sure of that.

MAN

Victors and victims.

WOMAN

Bit of a victim.

MAN

Optometrists and gynecologists.

WOMAN

Bit of a whiner.

MAN

The oppressors and the oppressed.

WOMAN

Shy, old Alfy. Timid.

MAN

The repressed and the depressed.

WOMAN

Mumbled a lot.

MAN

The strong and the weak.

WOMAN

I mean when he spoke.

MAN

The haters and the hated.

WOMAN

He didn’t speak, really.

MAN

The exploiters and the exploited.

WOMAN

And that’s Marjorie.

MAN

The leaders and the followers.

WOMAN

They were together for . . .

MAN

The fondlers and the fondled.

WOMAN

. . . Oh, musta been a decade or so.

MAN

The stoppers and the goers.

WOMAN

She’d milk his sheep for him.

MAN

The givers and the takers.

WOMAN

He had these wee sheep, out in the shack.

MAN

The laughers and the cryers.

WOMAN

Called them Bernice.

MAN

The wishers and the rememberers.

WOMAN

All of them, he called Bernice.

MAN

The workers and the players.

WOMAN

I swore he could tell them apart, but he just . . .

MAN

The talkers and the listeners.

WOMAN

. . . liked that name.

MAN

The old and the new, you see?

WOMAN

“Bernie.”

MAN

The old and the young.

WOMAN

“Have you milked my little Bernie today?” he’d say to Marjorie.

MAN

The caregivers and the caretakers.

WOMAN

“Did you squeeze it all out of her?”

MAN

The underminers and the undertakers.

WOMAN

“All of her? Every drop?”

MAN

The predators and the prey.

WOMAN

Of course, that was way before my time.

MAN

The eggs and the chickens.

WOMAN

I never met them.

BOY

What?

WOMAN

I just hear the stories.

MAN

The thinkers and the feelers.

WOMAN

And that’s grandpa after he fell off the roof.

MAN

The feelers and the lookers.

WOMAN

And that’s grandpa when he was a baby.

MAN

The tentacles and the testicles.

WOMAN

What a thirsty baby. To this day.

BOY

The what?

WOMAN

And that’s grandpa before he was born.

MAN

The orderers and the deliverers.

WOMAN

And that’s grandpa after he died, in that meat locker.

MAN

The orderers and the chaosers.

WOMAN

I never will forget the look on his face.

MAN

The actors and the spectators.

WOMAN

That grocer, with his icy whiskers, stamping his foot.

MAN

The actors and the acted upon.

WOMAN

Gesturing.

MAN

Do you understand?

WOMAN

Gesturing as if to say, “In with the meat! It’s a disgrace.”

(Son looks at father. Nods.)

WOMAN

Are you tired of looking at pictures?

(GIRL nods)

MAN

You want to go over it again?

(son looks at father)

WOMAN

(yawning:)

Do you want me to tell you a story?

(GIRL nods)

(son shakes head)

WOMAN

(looking around bus:)

It’s so empty.

BOY

Dad?

WOMAN

(looking out window:)

Everywhere you look.

MAN

Hm?

WOMAN

You see things, and people . . .

BOY

Where are we going?

(pause)

WOMAN

But it’s like there’s nothing.

MAN

Well, we’ll know when we get there, won’t we.

(pause)

WOMAN

(looking out window:)

It’s a long sad road home.

(Silence. Son stares at his father. GIRL stares at her grandmother.)

WOMAN

(Cont.; yawning:)

Do you want to sleep?

(Pause. Digging in purse:)

Would you like a Lifesaver?

MAN

Are you tired?

(son shakes head)

GIRL

These are TUMS.

MAN

Well I sure as shit am.

WOMAN

(half asleep, yawning:)

What, dear?

GIRL

Nothing.

WOMAN

Just shut your eyes. My father always told me, “You have to shut your eyes to see clearly.” Shut your eyes for one hour and you will understand this. “But don’t fall asleep,” he’d say. “Don’t ever let yourself sleep.”

GIRL

Good night.

(Turns and stares out window.)

WOMAN

Wake me when we’re . . .

(yawning, barely coherent:)

. . . there, would you?

(Long silence, as both WOMAN and MAN drift off to sleep. GIRL stares out window. BOY watches his father.)

PERSON 5

(talking in sleep:)

Get her. . . . Pull her out. . . .

(MAN snorts, remains sleeping. WOMAN starts awake momentarily. GIRL watches PERSON 5. BOY glances at PERSON 5, then stares at father.)

WOMAN

What, dear?

GIRL

Nothing. I didn’t say anything.

WOMAN

Don’t be silly.

(GIRL looks at her)

(WOMAN drifts back off. GIRL stares at PERSON 5.)

(silence)

PERSON 5

Get her out. . . . Get her outta the water. . . .

(GIRL still stares. BOY now turns also to look at PERSON 5.)

PERSON 5

I’m hungry. . . . Sure we can. . . . You want the fishes to have her then? . . .

(silence)

(as if in delayed reaction,
WOMAN wakes again momentarily)

WOMAN

Who, dear? What are you talking about, Alfy?

(GIRL turns, just stares at her until she goes back to sleep. Glances at BOY. BOY glances at her, theturns away abruptly. GIRL watches PERSON 5 again. BOY watches father.)

(silence)

PERSON 6

(same trance-like sleep-talking:)

What’d ya do with em?

(BOY and GIRL both turn to look at PERSON 6)

PERSON 6 (Cont.)

. . . the toilet? . . . He was only three. . . .

(silence)

PERSON 5

Well what sense does that make . . .

(BOY and GIRL watch PERSON 5 now)

(silence)

PERSON 6

Let’s bury him . . .

(BOY and GIRL watch PERSON 6)

PERSON 5

So we’ll fish it out . . . We’ve finished . . .

(BOY and GIRL watch PERSON 5. Then look at each other. BOY turns away abruptly. GIRL watches BOY. Finally GIRL turns away; looks at grandmother; looks at driver; looks at back of seat in front of her. Long silence.)

PERSON 8

Take off the clown suit, Eve . . .

(BOY and GIRL turn and watch PERSON 8, who also sleeps)

PERSON 5

Gone. . . .

(BOY and GIRL turn and
watch PERSON 5)

PERSON 8

Take it off and get into bed. . . .

(BOY and GIRL turn and watch PERSON 8)

(Silence. GIRL turns and stares at BOY. BOY, feeling her stare, looks at her, turning away abruptly. GIRL watches BOY briefly. Then both stare at the backs of the seats in front of them, listening.)

(**Each line of dialogue that follows should interrupt pauses/silences of varying lengths. Ideally, there should be long silences early on, growing increasingly shorter, as the dialogue becomes gradually more rapid, back-and-forth as though the sleeping characters are engaged in a heated argument, for example. By the end, the lines should overlap, all characters speaking more loudly and in a frenzy, tossing and turning though still asleep.)

PERSON 6

When you die I’m gonna flush you. . . . That’s my pain. . . .

PERSON 7

Don’t touch my arm. . . .

PERSON 6

Give it back now. . . .

PERSON 7

That’s not my arm. . . .

PERSON 6

Don’t open that. . . .

PERSON 7

Where’s the switch? . . .

PERSON 6

You’ll be sorry. . . .

PERSON 8

You think I asked for this to happen? . . .

PERSON 7

You can’t touch it. . . .

PERSON 8

How do you figure a naked face . . . .

PERSON 7

Will she come? . . .

PERSON 6

Well that’s the last time . . . .

PERSON 7

It’s not mine. . . .

PERSON 7

What happened to the sound of her? . . .

PERSON 7

I’m not here. . . .

PERSON 7

No. . . .

PERSON 7

I’m over there. . . .

PERSON 8

No, it’s like the rings. . . .

PERSON 7

Stop with the plunking about. . . .

PERSON 8

You count the rings. . . .

PERSON 7

I can’t see. . . .

PERSON 8

Like on a tree. . . .

PERSON 7

Get away from there. . . .

PERSON 6

He’ll never be the same. . . .

PERSON 7

I can’t feel. . . .

PERSON 8

You cut it open. . . .

PERSON 6

It’ll never . . . .

PERSON 7

Whose piano is that? . . .

PERSON 8

Burn it, not . . . .

PERSON 7

Who are you touching? . . .

PERSON 8

Who are you on top of the world . . . .

PERSON 7

Yours? . . .

PERSON 8

Not me, don’t burn me. . . .

PERSON 7

Dad? . . .

PERSON 8

Well then so ya throw it back with the rest of the congregation. . . .

PERSON 7

Maybe if we killed it . . . .

PERSON 6

Don’t kill it! . . .

PERSON 8

So kill it then if you’re so . . . .

PERSON 6

There’s gonna be somebody here any minute. . . .

PERSON 7

Squashed it . . . .

PERSON 6

I’ll be long gone. . . .

PERSON 7

Send it away. . . .

PERSON 6

You’ll be sorry you ever . . . .

PERSON 7

Bring it here. . . .

PERSON 8

The ceiling’s flooded, you can’t . . . .

PERSON 7

Get off me. . . .

PERSON 8

To drink the piano? . . .

PERSON 7

Mom’s boiling water. . . .

PERSON 8

It’s rotten. . . .

PERSON 7

We have to hide. . . .

PERSON 6

I’ll hide. . . .

PERSON 8

Your organs are dilated. . . .

PERSON 7

She’ll throw the pot. . . .

PERSON 6

Not on the grave, there’s no room. . . .

PERSON 7

She’s crying . . . .

PERSON 8

That smells like a falling . . . .

PERSON 7

I don’t have it, Mother. . . .

PERSON 6

Mom!

PERSON 6

If my father were here he’d take the bread from you. . . .

PERSON 7

It’s just . . . .

PERSON 5

I’m not diving under! . . .

PERSON 7

. . . gone. . . .

PERSON 5

If you’d hold me . . . .

PERSON 7

Here’s one. . . .

PERSON 8

I don’t care how good it sounds, . . . .

PERSON 7

Here’s a piece of me. . . .

PERSON 5

I’d never come back. . . .

PERSON 7

It’s not broken. . . .

PERSON 5

What then? . . .

PERSON 6

I own it with my own . . . .

PERSON 5

The rivets are coming loose. . . .

PERSON 7

From the inside. . . .

PERSON 6

And you can’t . . . .

PERSON 7

But don’t cut it. . . .

PERSON 6

Mom! . . .

PERSON 5

She’s asleep! Let her . . . .

PERSON 7

It’ll make you cry. . . .

PERSON 8

Eve, just get out from under there. . . .

PERSON 7

Other . . . .

PERSON 8

You wanna suffocate like all the rest a the . . . .

PERSON 7

Some of you . . . .

PERSON 7

. . . will see . . .

PERSON 6

Dad! . . .

PERSON 7

Let’s go around again. . . .

PERSON 8

It’s too late for the sheep to be . . . .

PERSON 7

Before we came to you we learned . . . .

PERSON 5

There’s no way I’m leaving that here with . . . .

PERSON 7

It’s not going to pay. . . .

PERSON 5

Like you’re still inside her. . . .

PERSON 7

My dress . . . .

PERSON 6

She stole my pain! . . .

PERSON 7

There’s a spot on my dress. . . .

PERSON 6

With my own money! . . .

PERSON 7

I looked so pretty. . . .

PERSON 5

Well my legs may not fit me, but . . . .

PERSON 8

O.K., fine. So just give me the rope. . . .

PERSON 5

Well if that’s what you want then give it to me. . . .

PERSON 6

I’ll never find . . . .

PERSON 7

Put that rope away. . . .

PERSON 6

Ever again from now on! Never! . . .

PERSON 8

You watchin’? . . .

PERSON 7

Just be quiet. . . .

PERSON 5

Don’t look. I don’t want to hear it. . . .

PERSON 6

O.K. I’ll be quiet. . . .

PERSON 7

Let’s don’t say another word. . . .

PERSON 6

But I’m never coming back. . . .

PERSON 7

Let’s just go to sleep. . . .

PERSON 8

Good night.

PERSON 5

Good night. Tell him that I . . . .

PERSON 7

Go to sleep. . . .

PERSON 6

In the morning don’t tell them anything. . . .

PERSON 7

O.K.? . . .

PERSON 6

O.K.? . . .

PERSON 5

O.K.? . . .

PERSON 8

Good night. . . .

PERSON 7

Sleep. . . .

(long silence)

(Sound of air brakes. As the bus comes to a halt, a few people are shaken awake. Most sleep on. Sound of the door opening. The BOY and the GIRL tug at their respective elders, who wake muttering, startled and unsure where they are.)

MAN

We’re not there, let me sleep.

WOMAN

Oh my God! What a terrible . . . .

MAN

Are we?

WOMAN

Well, I guess we’d better . . . .

(rises, stretches, gathers her things)

MAN (looking out window:)

Well shit, lookit that. Whattaya know.

(picks up his briefcase)

Let’s go, boy. What’re ya sittin for? Sleepy or somethin?

WOMAN

Come on. You can sleep in a warm cozy bed. A nice still bed in a room. That’s not moving.

MAN

Boy, I feel . . . just . . . .

DRIVER

Come on, clear out, get off, we got a schedule ta keep.

MAN

Hold your horses, now.

WOMAN

My feeble bones just can’t . . . .

(The father and grandmother get off. Silence. The BOY and GIRL stare at one another.)

Hey! You awake there?! What are ya, deaf ‘n dumb? Get off my boat! This train’s sailin!

(Finally the stare is broken. The two look at the driver, exit.)

(Father and grandmother smile at one another, but say nothing and begin walking, in opposite directions.)

(Son and GIRL stay behind, stopped, staring at each other, still, silent, for a long while. Sound of bus departing again; [bus, driver and passengers fade to black].)

(Father and grandmother go offstage. BOY and GIRL stare. Finally stare is broken. Each goes off, in separate directions.)

(CURTAIN)


Alternate ending:

(The BUS DRIVER has fallen asleep, and is about to go off the road. Suddenly wakes, swerves; boy and girl scream, other passengers wake. Sound of brakes. Bus comes to a stop. DRIVER sweating and shaking; opens door. MAN, BOY, WOMAN and GIRL exit as above. Bus drives off [fade to black]. Then:)

MAN

Where the hell are we?

WOMAN

This doesn’t . . . This doesn’t look right. Not at all.

BOY

Dad?

MAN

Hmh?

BOY

Are we lost?

MAN

Oh no. Lost? Hell no. We’ll just . . .

(MAN and BOY begin walking off. BOY and GIRL exchange a long look.)

MAN (to BOY:)

Come on there. No loiterin.

(They go.)

WOMAN

Well, we must be . . . We’ll just . . . I think it’s this way.

(WOMAN and GIRL go off in opposite direction.)

(CURTIAN)