Category Archives: One act play

The Automat

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I saw a silent film a few years ago. I don’t remember the title; it was probably about fifteen minutes in length. The photraphy was shot in black and white. It was not a pre-talkie; the silent feature and the lack of color were important special effects. The story would have to support itself:   

And  the cameras begin to roll……………….

An expensively attired, middle-aged woman is seen entering The Automat. She peers into several windows, puts money into the slot, removes her food selection – let’s say it was pork chops and broccoli; she spots an empty table and seats herself. Then, realizing that she failed to select eating utensils she rises from her seat and walks to the counter containing the necessary extras. As she returns to her table she sees a man in a shabby suit seated there, eating her food. Several expressions cross her face in quick succession; surprise, anger, pity and finally a sort of resolve. She seats herself opposite the haggard looking and apparently hungry, consumer and again displays the conflicting emotions. Should I allow him to eat my food(?) she seems to ask herself, or should I stand my ground(?).

She places her utensils on the table and reaches for the plate of food. As she begins to eat, her newly acquired dinner companion extends an arm and rescues his meal. They look at each other, he with curious eyes, she with the look of strength and determination. She repeats her previous performance as does the ragged gentleman on the other side of the booth. What now(?) they seem to wonder.

Eventually, it is the man who appears to have the problem solved. Clearly, he is not going to relinquish his claim on the meal but he also appears to be something of a gentleman in spite of skid row appearance. He places the plate of food at a point halfway between them and motions for her to partake of some nourishment. She slowly and with a cautious look and manner, complies. He then carves the pork chop and with the edge of his knife moves a few pieces in her direction. With his fork he places a morsel of meat into his mouth and motions for her to do the same.

What, I wondered would motivate this woman to give in so easily? What would I have done in a similar situation? In a matter of only a few minutes the food is nearly consumed by these two people. She moves the plate toward her dinner partner and rises to leave. He thanks her with his eyes and with the wave of his hand and a final tap of the napkin on the corner of his mouth seems to be saying “No thank you, I couldn’t possibly eat another bite. Thank you for joining me; have a wonderful day.”

She returns his smile. They turn their backs to each other and depart, each exiting in different directions. As she passes the booth situated directly behind the location of her meal of moments ago, she notices a plate of pork chops and broccoli with no utensils; there was no one seated before it.

“Okay, then”. A story about Big Bangs and Sneakers.

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A conversation with Curious Abner, the man with questions and his pal, The Psychedelic Toad who though warty, is endowed with a spiritual glow.

 

Curio: (Shoulders slumped, slouching with head down.) Hi Psycho.

Psycho: Hi yourself oh Gloomy One. Woman trouble?

Curio: Mmm.

Psycho: The Rescue Lady, again?

Curio: Mmm.

Psycho: So?

Curio: We finally parted pathways.

Psycho: What rhymes with “parted”?

Curio: Clues?

Psycho: It’s not carted or darted or started.

Curio: Mmm.

Psycho: My point is that whatever she did or said is not the reason for your glum outlook, right now.

Curio: Mmm.

Psycho: Whatever you two did to each other was to fart without so much as an “excuse me”.

Curio: Excuse me?

Psycho: A fart begins because something deep inside of you, something really nasty, needs to get out. When it finally emerges, it doesn’t matter whether it sneaks out like it does with your friend or announces itself with a noisy Broooooom; it feels great to get it out. Do you feel sad when you fart?

Curio: Guess not.

Psycho: Okay then.

Curio: What about my friend? Will she be okay?

Psycho: Yep.

Curio: Okay then.

The Beggar and the Business Man.

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He appears from the darkness in silence; He may have been there for hours.
Like the minute hand on my Omega; I failed to notice him arrive.

“Hello”.

I speak; he glares.

“Hello”
The tattered apparition holds his gaze.

“May I pass please?” I attempt to move around him. “May I pass?”

He remains silent. His eyes hold mine. What are they telling me? He’s wearing a badly soiled, well-tailored, senatorially pinstriped suit, crafted apparently for a taller man in a different time, most certainly a better defined neighborhood. His attire assumes a sadness; a life of poverty? Perhaps a recently downgraded lifestyle forced upon him by difficult times?

I step to my right – he steps to his left.

“Please” I implore, “My lunch hour is over. I need to get back to my desk.” neither a minute flick of lash nor hint of furrowed brow.

I breathe deeply and attempt to relax the imagined lines in my forehead. He remains implacable; an immovable stoic with an unknown plan. What does he have on his mind. His left hand is hidden in the left trouser pocket where gentlemen account for their coins. Is he holding a weapon? A switch-blade?
I move to the left – he to the right.

“Are you hungry? There is a warm dinner roll in my doggie bag. I had one of these for lunch; delicious. I think you’ll enjoy it.” I raised the offering; no response.

I deke to the right and quickly left. Had I been wearing a weathered, fifty year-old, hand tailored, poorly fitting suit I might have thought for a moment that I was dancing at a street corner, practicing moves before a mirror.

I muse momentarily: “How much to cross the street?”

“Fifty Cents”: I offer a dollar; his left hand withdraws from the left trouser pocket and places two quarters into my open palm.
The disheveled entrepreneur steps to his left.
The light turns green.

(Most who have read this describe when requested to do so, the businessman as the man with the expensive watch. In fact, the business man is the fellow in the tattered suit, the beggar being the one who wants to cross the street.)

By Lee Broom.

The Automat

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I saw a silent film a few years ago. I don’t remember the title; it was probably about fifteen minutes in length. The photraphy was shot in black and white. It was not a pre-talkie; the silent feature and the lack of color were important special effects. The story would have to support itself:   

And  the cameras begin to roll……………….

An expensively attired, middle-aged woman is seen entering The Automat. She peers into several windows, puts money into the slot, removes her food selection – let’s say it was pork chops and broccoli; she spots an empty table and seats herself. Then, realizing that she failed to select eating utensils she rises from her seat and walks to the counter containing the necessary extras. As she returns to her table she sees a man in a shabby suit seated there, eating her food. Several expressions cross her face in quick succession; surprise, anger, pity and finally a sort of resolve. She seats herself opposite the haggard looking and apparently hungry, consumer and again displays the conflicting emotions. Should I allow him to eat my food(?) she seems to ask herself, or should I stand my ground(?).

She places her utensils on the table and reaches for the plate of food. As she begins to eat, her newly acquired dinner companion extends an arm and rescues his meal. They look at each other, he with curious eyes, she with the look of strength and determination. She repeats her previous performance as does the ragged gentleman on the other side of the booth. What now(?) they seem to wonder.

Eventually, it is the man who appears to have the problem solved. Clearly, he is not going to relinquish his claim on the meal but he also appears to be something of a gentleman in spite of skid row appearance. He places the plate of food at a point halfway between them and motions for her to partake of some nourishment. She slowly and with a cautious look and manner, complies. He then carves the pork chop and with the edge of his knife moves a few pieces in her direction. With his fork he places a morsel of meat into his mouth and motions for her to do the same.

What, I wondered would motivate this woman to give in so easily? What would I have done in a similar situation? In a matter of only a few minutes the food is nearly consumed by these two people. She moves the plate toward her dinner partner and rises to leave. He thanks her with his eyes and with the wave of his hand and a final tap of the napkin on the corner of his mouth seems to be saying “No thank you, I couldn’t possibly eat another bite. Thank you for joining me; have a wonderful day.”

She returns his smile. They turn their backs to each other and depart, each exiting in different directions. As she passes the booth situated directly behind the location of her meal of moments ago, she notices a plate of pork chops and broccoli with no utensils; there was no one seated before it.

Felves, Selves and Curious Elves

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“I’m perfectly happy with my perfect self.”

Said the perfectly happy, perfect elf

“Except for only one thing.

I never learned how to sing.”

“Sing?” Trilled the fairy with voice so clear

“I’ll give you a voice we’ll all love to hear”

She waved her wand; it went “bling”

“Now let your new voice ring.”

Elf opened wide and tried his new sound

A lovely voice so mellow and round

Except for only one thing

To his old self he wanted to cling.

“I was perfectly happy with my perfect self”

Said the formerly happy, perfect elf

“Except for only one thing

I’m a bit of a dingaling.”

“Now that I’m perfect there’s nothing to change

There’s nothing at all left to rearrange

If only I had some wings”

Fairy waved her wand; it went “bling”.

If you’re looking for a happy ending, there is only Now. But let’s suppose that the elf is an ordinary self much like you and I. Elf discovered that his new voice was not new at all; he had been so enamored with his new persona that he failed to notice that his fairy friend now spoke with the husky voice which had once been his and that Fairy no longer had wings. The swap was irreversible. They now must learn to accept themselves and each other or spend the rest of their days being miserable.

Elf decided that Fairy must have loved him

A bushel and a peck

As the old song goes

And a hug around the neck

As the old song continues.

“Will you marry me” he trilled.

“Yes I will, yes I will”, she croaked.

So they were married by an elfin priest in the Magical Church of Fairyland and promised to spend their lives together, loving and sharing and maybe even raising some little felves. I never did learn how it all turned out. Are they happy together? Are they together? Are they…..?

If I hear anything I’ll let you know.

By Lee Broom