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A Play in One Act

by John Ladd

Characters

(In Order of Appearance)

 

Jim

Marie

 

SETTING

A motel room.  It is divided into an ante-room, that is at center-stage, and the bedroom that is, conceptually, off beyond stage-right.  The ante-room has the usual amenities including a table with two chairs as well as one particularly special feature- and is one that the audience cannot see– a north-facing, one-way glass wall and ceiling both of which are covered by imaginary drapes on imaginary drawstrings.

 AT RISE

            Enter from stage left JIM and MARIE at the door to their room.  JIM unlocks the door, reaches in and turns on the lights (the house lights come up.)  JIM and MARIE enter the ante-room carrying and pulling their travel luggage.

 JIM

                  (entering the room)

            Well, here we are.

                         [MARIE follows JIM into the room.]

 MARIE

                        (sitting down, exhausted)

            I can’t believe we’re finally here.

                         [JIM puts the luggage down and, similarly exhausted,

                        sits down in the other chair.]

 JIM

            I know- I didn’t think that it would take this long.

 MARIE

            So, we’re in Anchorage.

 JIM

            No Fairbanks.

 MARIE

            That’s right, Fairbanks.  And, what is so special about Fairbanks?

 JIM

            You don’t remember?

 MARIE

            Jim, honey- I know why we’re here, but, specifically- there’ve been so many

            places for so many unique reasons.

 JIM

            It’s the northern lights- that’s why we’re here.  They’re said to be a powerful

            fertility aid.

 MARIE

            I see- that’s right- I’m sorry, I forgot.  I’m just hungry, thirsty and tired.

 JIM

            All right.  Let me get you something.

                         [JIM begins to stand so as to go over to the luggage.

                        MARIE reaches across the table and gently grabs him

                        by the arm.  JIM returns to his chair.]

 MARIE

            Like I said, I am hungry and thirsty, but today- this evening- I want something

            different.

 JIM

                        (surprised)

            Different?

 MARIE

            Yes, different- I need a break.  I don’t want to eat the same old fertility

            aphrodisiacs that I’ve been eating for the last two years.  Tonight, I’m not

            interested in strawberries or figs.

 JIM

                        (thinking)

            Okay, then how about some tea?  I brought it along-

 MARIE

                        (interrupting)

            No.  Don’t even bring out the red clover or the stinging nettle.

 JIM

                        (confused)

            Then, what?

 MARIE

            I want a drink.

 JIM

            A drink?

                         (pause)

             What kind?

 MARIE

            How about a glass of merlot or cabernet?

 JIM

                        (standing)

            Alcohol?

                         (pause)

             You know you’re not suppose to have alcohol.

MARIE

            Or coffee in the morning.

 JIM

            That’s right.

 MARIE

                        (standing)

            Just soy, high fat foods- and more ice cream.  I’m tired of it- aren’t you?  You’re

            doing what you can- the zinc, the calcium, the vitamin E, the astralagus for sperm

            motility, the panax ginseng for firmness and length of erection-

 JIM

                        (interrupting)

            You’re not complaining are you?

 MARIE

                        (laughs)

            No, at least the ginseng’s been fun, but otherwise, where has it gotten us?

 JIM

            Marie, that’s what they say we should do.

 MARIE

                        (sighs)

            Yeah, but we’ve been doing this now for a long time. 

                         (pause)

             You know, when we finally decided to have children and tried and then went to

            the fertility doctor it seemed so simple.

                         (pause)

             Sperm count, diet, less stress, no alcohol, no smoking-

 JIM

                        (interrupting)

            Seeing the doctor was the logical place to start.

 MARIE

            Sure it was.  Then, all I had to do was take a couple of drugs- Clomid, Heparin,

            Progesterone- no problem- we wanted children, so what the hell.

                         (pause)

             How long did it take before we realized that wasn’t going to work?

 JIM

                        (thinking)

            I don’t know- it seems like we were in a fog.

 MARIE

            Maybe so, but I went from a fog to a nightmare once the procedures started.

                         (pause)

             Let’s see, aside from the failed in vitro attempts, there was the tubal ligation

            reversal, the G-I-F-T, the Z-I-F-T, the T-E-T- and, again, what?  Nothing!

 JIM

            I know, I know- I really felt bad for you.

 MARIE

                        (quickly)

            And you, too!  Each time it didn’t work I felt that it was my fault, that I was

            failing us- that I was failing you!

                         [JIM walks over to MARIE and embraces her.]

 JIM

            You weren’t failing anybody- you were trying along with medical science- but it

            just wasn’t working.

                         [MARIE breaks the embrace.]

 MARIE

            No, it wasn’t.

                         (pause)

            And I suppose that we could have stopped there and just adopted, but-

                         (pause)

           but I knew how badly you wanted us to have kids, so, we left medical science

            behind and here we are-

                         (pause)

             and, let me tell you, it’s been one hell of an experience!

 JIM

                        (protesting)

            It wasn’t that bad.

 MARIE

                        (laughing)

            Oh, I’m not saying that it was bad.  It’s just that it just started out as this

            incredibly passive part of our life- remember the Egyptian phallic symbols that we

            had all over the house?

 JIM

            I do.

 MARIE

            And the fact that we had to put them all away whenever my mother came to visit?

 JIM

                        (laughing)

            I do- except that one time-

 MARIE

                        (interrupting)

            When you forgot the one on the top shelf of the refrigerator-

 JIM

                        (interrupting)

            And she went in to get some juice-

 MARIE

                        (interrupting)

            Only to be greeted by this over-sized penis!

 JIM

            Hey, hey- it wasn’t a penis- it was a phallic symbol.

 MARIE

            Yeah, right- now my mother thinks that you’re some sort of sexual pervert.

 JIM

                        (resigned)

            Well, regardless, it was worth a try.

 MARIE

            Oh, we tried all right.  Remember when you used to have me stand on my head-

            after sex- because you read somewhere that doing so increases my chance of

            getting pregnant?

 JIM

            You looked cute.

 MARIE

            And did you think that I looked cute in the Supported Bridge, Legs on Wall and

            Cobler’s poses?

 JIM

            If I only had had a digital camera.

 MARIE

            Then, what was it-

                         (thinking)

             Yes!  The fertility yoga and the Sitz baths and the butt baths- what about the

            acupuncture?  Did I look cute, then?  With all those needles in me?

 JIM

            Actually, Marie, as far as the needles went- it all looked kind of medieval. The

            acupuncture?  Well, there were a couple of times that you missed your period and

            we thought that it had worked- that you were pregnant.

 MARIE

            Which, when you found out that I wasn’t, it just added to your insanity.

 JIM

            Oh!  Now I was insane?

 MARIE

            You were- certifiably!

 JIM

            It was intensity.  They’re two different things- intensity and insanity.

 MARIE

            Oh, really?

                         (pause)

             Did you forget aromatherapy, homeopathy, the flower remedies-

                         (pause)

             and then the trips.

 JIM

            Which brought us here.

 MARIE

                        (laughs)

            Sure, by way of around the world.  Let’s see, where should I start?

                         (pause to think)

             How about that one-hundred and eighty foot carved figure above Cerne Abbas in

            Dorset, England?  Or the statues at the headquarters of Ripley’s in Orlando- that

            we had to make an appointment to see?  Then, there was our trip to Newark- to

            the national shrine of Saint Gerard, the “unofficial” patron saint of motherhood?

 JIM

                        (laughing)

            Hey, we got to see part of the world- it was an adventure.

 MARIE

            Especially the last one- the fertility festival in Japan at the Tagata Shrine-

                         (pause)

             I’m sure you’ll never forget that-  I mean, how could anyone forget the thirteen

            foot penis that was the guest of honor!

 JIM

            It was bigger than I thought it would be.  I guess that when you’re having a

            fertility festival- size does matter.

 MARIE

            So, speaking of festivals, is that why we’re here- the northern lights are part of

            another fertility festival?

 JIM

            There’s no festival.  We’re just exploring a belief that occurs in Japanese culture

            that it’s good luck- as in babies- to have sex under the northern lights.

 MARIE

            So, what’s the catch?

                         (looking around the room)

             Since there’s no bed in here, what, do we have to do this outside in the snow?

 JIM

            No, no- we’ll be inside.  The bedroom is in the next room.  You see, they built

            this place especially for the reason we’re here- it has a one way glass wall and

            ceiling-

                         (indicating to the wall and ceiling)

             on the other side of the curtains.

                         [MARIE looks straight ahead at the “wall,” walks up to it

                        and mimes touching “it.”  Then, she looks up at the ceiling.

                        She peeks beyond the wall curtain to the outside.]

 MARIE

            Very interesting.  You’re sure that it’s one-way glass?

 JIM

            I’m sure.

                         (pause)

            Have you ever seen the northern lights before?

MARIE

                        (thinking)

            No, I don’t think that I ever have.

                         (pause)

             Have you?

 JIM

            A couple of times when I was a kid, but this is suppose to be far more spectacular.

 MARIE

            Do you think that this is going to work?  That this- this time- is going to make a

            difference?

 JIM

            I hope so- we’re kind of running out of options, fertility festivals, scared stones-

            everything.

 MARIE

                        (thoughtfully)

            I know, I know.

                         (a pause and then a sigh)

             All right, let’s pull open the drapes and see what we have.

                         [JIM mimes the pulling open of the wall and ceiling drapes.]

                         [NOTE:  The play can continue either with the house lights

                     up or with the house lights down but with a beam

                     Of light- perhaps even colored- on the ceiling.]

 JIM

            Whoa!  That is impressive!

 MARIE

            Oh, how beautiful.

                         [JIM and MARIE embrace.]

 JIM

            Look at how it flows- like a multi-colored ribbon being blow along by an unfelt

            wind.

 MARIE

            What causes it?

 JIM

            What you see are high energy ionized particles powered by solar winds.

 MARIE

                        (breaking the embrace)

            I see-

                         (pause)

             And I suppose now you’re going to tell me that if I just happen to accompany you

            into the bedroom that you have some high energy ionized particles that you would

            like to share with me?

                         [JIM takes MARIE by the hand.]

JIM

            Powered by solar winds, no less.

 MARIE

            Hmm, sounds promising- even exciting.

                         [JIM and MARIE walk toward stage-right and the bedroom beyond.]

 BLACKOUT

END OF PLAY

John Ladd is currently living in a small town in upstate New York where he is collaborating on a screenplay.  Prior to this, he lived in New York City where he spent a considerable amount of time writing and having his plays produced.  When he is not writing, he farms, part-time, with his spotted coon-hound, Roma.

 

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