Jun 19, 2007

The phone call

A Play in Three Acts

Cast of Characters

HERB HORSHAK--60ish with gray hair and a slight paunch. Wears a Treo on his belt and brandishes it at odd times. Has a one-syllable laugh that's kind of a cross between "Ha!" and a hiccup which he generally deploys about 30 seconds after he figures out that someone's just said something funny.

MARY-BETH HORSHAK--Herb's wife, a nondescript late-middle-aged woman.

JILLIAN JASPER--50ish, superannuated hippy chick, known to wear knee-highs under a skirt and an ill-fitting bra. Has a high voice like a child.

RACHEL--An innocent bystander.

Act I:
A morning in November

The curtain rises to reveal a long, dank corridor in the Technical Information Center. Herb, Mary-Beth and Jillian are standing on one end, chatting, when Rachel enters at the other end.

HERB: Rachel, come here a sec.


HERB: I'd like you to meet my wife, Mary-Beth.

RACHEL: How do you do?

MARY-BETH: Nice to meet you, Rachel.

JILLIAN: Isn't it romantic, Rachel? Mary-Beth comes down here every Thursday night and they have dinner together and spend the night on post.

RACHEL: Great. Listen, I've got a lot to do if I'm gonna get out of here early enough to beat rush hour traffic. I'm going to Philadelphia this weekend. Nice meeting you.

MARY-BETH: You too, Rachel

Act II
6 months later

Rachel's office. She is leaning slightly back in her chair with the telephone receiver cradled under her ear. She's having an interminable conversation with her son about something at the same time that she's blogging about shoes. From the open door, she sees a woman walk quickly down the hall. Moments later, the woman returns and Rachel recognizes Mary-Beth, who sticks her hand in the door and waves on her way out of the building.


Another months 6 later

Rachel's office. She's sitting at her desk transferring figures from a piece of paper onto an Excel spreadsheet. Offstage Jillian and Herb can be heard discussing what they ate for lunch. The phone rings.

RACHEL: Hello.

MARY-BETH: Rachel?


MARY-BETH: It's Mary-Beth.


MARY-BETH: Mary-Beth Horshak. Herb's wife.


MARY-BETH: Are you alone?

RACHEL: Um, yeah.

MARY-BETH: Are Herb and Jillian nearby? Can they hear you?

RACHEL: They're in the hall. Do you want to speak to Herb?

MARY-BETH: No. Can I ask you to do something for me?

RACHEL: Ahhh ... sure.

MARY-BETH: Could you please close your office door?

RACHEL: Uhhm, why?

MARY-BETH: I want this to be kept between the two of us.


MARY-BETH: Now I want to ask you a question.


MARY-BETH: Do you think Herb is honest?

RACHEL: Honest?

MARY-BETH: Yes, do you think Herb is honest where women are concerned?

RACHEL: I'm not sure where you're going with this.

MARY-BETH: Do you think Herb is a man of good character where women are concerned?

RACHEL: As far as I know. I mean, I haven't heard anything.

MARY-BETH: You haven't?


MARY-BETH: OK. Well I just wanted to know. You know how we old ladies get, worrying about things.

RACHEL: Well, I don't know anything that would worry you.

MARY-BETH: Thanks. And Rachel?


MARY-BETH: Please don't say anything about this phone call. Don't tell Herb.

RACHEL: Uh, sure.

MARY-BETH: Bye, bye.


Rachel hangs up the phone. The lights go off. Curtain falls.

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