Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dopamine Oz

ACT ONE
Scene 1

          The stage is lit with one work light and there is a lady’s vanity downstage. Someone is heard off stage in mid-tirade. Enter Mary. She is tall,  in her late forties and dressed in simple attire. She is talking to herself, and anyone else who may be listening, and gesturing with her right hand. Her left arm is curled against her chest and works only a little.

MARY
You asked for it didn’t you? Be careful what you wish for…remember? Life was firing on all cylinders… It was good but you didn’t know how good, did you?  (She sits at the vanity. Shaking, she is taking aim and missing her eyeliner, attempts to paint her lips.)  Oh, screw the make up! Like they say, God never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have. Oil can! Oil can! (She squirts perfume on and flips two pills in the air catching them in her mouth.) It started off pretty rough, but who knew where the yellow brick road would lead? When did I first shake hands with the Tin Man? Oh yes -

          Enter a Man and a Woman. They pull up three seats. The Man sits in one. The Woman takes Mary by the arm and invites her to sit opposite the Man who is formal and staring lidlessly. Woman takes her position behind the Man.

MAN
Do you know already why we have asked you to meet with us today Mary?


MARY
(She responds to the Man, and / turns to the audience to articulate what’s really going on in her head.)  Oh, and I thought maybe because it’s my birthday, there’d be cake. / Why is my hand shaking? / Ha Ha.

MAN
Mmm hmm… yes… well. We have come to a business decision with which I am sure you would agree upon explanation. We hope you appreciate that it is nothing personal. It’s just the times, and the economy and well… We’ve retooled our workforce to be a lean mean machine (He pumps his fist like Tony Robbins) and we (He nods toward the Woman) have determined after a great deal of consideration and even soul searching that your job is no longer necessary.


MARY

Really? I am floored. / Nothing personal? How personal is losing your job with kids to feed at home? / But y’know if anyone were to pick a perfect time to drop your load to make the bottom line look better, it’d be now wouldn’t it? Better to slice than be sliced right? / Soul? What soul? What th’? My leg’s twitching like a frog on electrodes!/ How about you toast to your brilliant cost cutting prowess with the martinis you two no doubt will have after our little meeting here. Cheers to another successful uptick! / I need that drink right now. Stop with the tremors already! They will not see me cry damn it!



MAN

You see? The sarcasm Mary. This is part of the reason why I… (He collects himself.) We will see if we can’t place you in another position elsewhere in the company but with the condition that if we are unsuccessful, in thirty days we’ll discuss your severance, ok?


WOMAN

Shall I get you a jacket? Is it cold in here? You’re shaking.


MARY

Sorry, sorry. That was uncalled for. No, I am fine, not cold. / What the hell? I am shivering like a freakin' junkie. / I don’t agree with your business decision but you obviously have/ a vested interest in keeping your bloated salary/ the bigger picture in mind. /I wish I had a picture of you with a goat./ I have a lot of other skills in my war bag/ skills to drop kick your bald ass into the next county/ so I am sure something will come up in thirty days to challenge me. / I got your challenge. Go ahead and find two competent 20 year olds who will work for a fraction of what I cost. What is with my toes? God they’re cramping!/ I am sure you can see /you blind naked bottom feeder/ that there’s a ton of opportunity for a 15 year veteran in the company/ this top heavy arrogant money-grubbing company/ for someone like me/ lil ol’ expendable me.

MAN

Thank you for your understanding. Now my assistant here will go to your office and get your personal effects and you can leave directly from here –

MARY

No, I’ll get my personal effects myself if it’s all the same to you./ wouldn’t want you to discover the pens or the Post-its I stole from the office./ I want to say goodbye to everybody. / Oh my God, I am locking up. Must will the legs to move… /Just give me a moment ok? /So you can reassure yourselves I won’t go postal on your sorry asses.

WOMAN

(She leans in to Mary in a saccharinely sympathetic way.)   You know, before I came here, I was a licensed practicing psychologist so if you need to talk about this… Here’s my card.

MARY

Thank you / Talking with you would push me to the top of a tall building with a loaded rifle. Hollow points. I am looking at you in the crosshairs first bitch! / I’ll take that under consideration.

         Man and Woman exit.
MARY

You said it. Out loud so God and the angels and all the cells in your body could hear. “I just need something to give me a break from this friggin' hamster wheel…”  So logically, it’s your entire fault. You knew that putting it out there into the plasma pool like that just stirred up all the flying monkeys. Like poking them with a sharp stick! Tin Man needed an oil can and, as it turned out, a certified mechanic to make the diagnosis and maybe put in the fix too…

          Man Enters in Lab Coat

MAN

(In a dry flat monotone)  So your arm is stiff. Ok. Raise it. Ok. Only that far? Ok. Take ibuprophen. See you in six months.

          Man takes her by the shoulders and spins her 180 degrees to face Woman in Lab Coat.

WOMAN

(Bubbly, plastic)  So your arm is stiff. Ok. Raise it. Ok. Only that far?  Ok. Take ibuprophen. Let’s give you a cortisone shot in the joint. See you in six months.

          Woman spins her 180 degrees to face Man in Lab Coat.

MAN

(With eastern Indian accent)   So your arm is stiff. Ok. Raise it. Ok. Only that far? And you are profoundly fatigued as well? Ok. Take ibuprophen. Let’s give you a cortisone shot in the joint and you must meditate morning and evening even until the day you die. See you in six months.

          Man spins her 180 degrees to face Woman in Lab Coat.

WOMAN

(Gruffly, with authority, impatience)   So your arm is stiff. Ok. Raise it. Ok. Only that far? And you are profoundly fatigued as well? Ok. Take ibuprophen. Let’s give you a cortisone shot in the joint and what’s this voodoo about meditating morning and evening even until the day you die? You need to toughen up Missy. Everyone’s got stress. Take it like a woman! Get a handle on it. Meanwhile let’s break up those adhesions in your shoulder. This is going to hurt…

          Woman manipulates Mary’s arm and shoulder like a Russian wrestler and the sound of loud cracking is heard in concert with a yelp from Mary in pain. Woman then spins her 180 degrees to face Man in Lab Coat.

MAN

(With thick Czech accent)   So your arm is stiff. Ok. Raise it. Ok. Only that far? And you are profoundly fatigued as well? You feel overwhelmed and your leg is dragging. Ok. Take ibuprophen. Let’s also get you started on some anti-depressant medication…What? You have no insurance?


          Mary screams. All freeze.

MAN

Maybe a little something for anxiety as well…

MARY

Here’s what you said, “I wish I could get just a little rest, a hiatus from life, a reason to just drop out for a while.” And somebody heard it…(She turns to the MAN who, still in a white coat is reaching out to gently touch her fingers, shoulders, arms…cradle her head in his hands… )    Doc, I have this weird shaking and stiffness in my arm and leg. My left leg drags when I walk. Foot cramps. Maybe it might be nerve damage from all the shots and adhesion busting when my shoulder froze up… maybe stress makes me shake…

MAN
Uh huh…

MARY
Frankly, I am not complaining. All this wiggling is making men wonder what it’d be like to do me – like those old “magic fingers” beds in motels. Quarter in the slot and 5 minutes of bliss, you know.  Unless it's the Bates Motel.  Whole different vibe there...

MAN

(Laughing)   Frozen shoulder is the first symptom you know. Let me have your arm. Quit resisting. Let me have it!

MARY

(She visibly cannot release her arm to him, but makes it into a claw grasping demonically for her own throat.)   No you can’t have it. Bwahahahaa!! It is possessed!


MAN

Ok, ok. Very funny.  Now walk for me.

MARY

Typical male.  You don't want to see us coming, but can't stop watching us walk away. How do you want it? Goosestep, sashay or runway? Watch me work it, medicine man. (She attempts a runway turn and stumbles. He catches her in his arms, steadies her, and holds her hand.)

MARY

Oooh Doc, the “magic fingers” comment hit a nerve eh?

MAN

(With gravity)  You know it's Parkinson’s, don’t you?


MARY

(Full stop)  Well, I guess I’ll be making all the martinis from now on.

          Spotlight irises in on Mary

And there it was. Maybe if it had been left unsaid, hadn’t been even thought of or flown carelessly from your big mouth like some mutant boomerang, no jonnie-on-the-spot agency of disaster such as God or an angel or even the billions of potentially malfunctioning cells in your body, your brain, would’ve been the wiser.



(To be continued)

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you show us what Mary thinks by bolding it. Good use of the doctors, lab coats, and spinning chair. We have all said we want a break from life, or are sick of our jobs, kids, spouse and the work of life but we don't really mean that we want it to go away. This highlights how little some big companies really care about their employees - that it is all about the money and not about the people. I am sorry Mary has Parkinson's. I am interested to learn what happens next in her journey.

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