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One-Act Play – This Is All Gonna Go Away

THIS IS ALL GONNA GO AWAY, YOU KNOW.  AnD THAT’S A GOOD THING by Richard Morell

Copyright 2008

CAST OF CHARACTERS

 

HENRY:  A casually accepting “doomer” and BLIZZARD’s partner.

BLIZZARD:  Genteel cosmopolitan fellow.

SARA:  Whip-smart sassy lawyer for the State.

MARLON:  Affable, but ruthless businessman husband of SARA.

GÉRARD:  Stressed, put-upon waiter

PIERRE:  Maître-D’ of Chez du Maison.  Outwardly calm, inwardly a wreck.

The action takes place in Chez du Maison, a slightly-upscale restaurant.


SETTING:                     Chez Du Maison, a not quite upscale restaurant.  White table cloths, skimpy flower arrangements.  this play takes place on the second floor.

AT RISE:                     HENRY sits at a table reading a book entitled “The Long Descent.”  He has a wistful smile on his face, every once in awhile taking in what is going on around him.  Four menus sit on the table, which has four chairs stationed around it.  GÉRARD, the waiter, moves about the restaurant, making sure things are just so.  Looks at the upstairs entrance a few times.  He holds a carafe of water.  Fills up HENRY’s water glass and absent-mindedly hands him some mints.

HENRY

What, is this a comment of some sort?

GÉRARD

Oh, I’m so sorry!  This isn’t my day, alas.

(Sheepishly, GÉRARD retreats back down the staircase as MAITRE-D’ comes up the stairs with BLIZZARD, a cute, well-built man dressed trés chic.)

PIERRE

Monsieur, one of your party has arrived.

HENRY

Hey, Blizz.

BLIZZARD

Hey Henry.

(AS MAITRE-D’ exits, the two men kiss hello and sit at the table.)

I’m glad you decided to have this little get-together here.  I’ve been wanting to try this place.

HENRY

Sure, why not.  Who knows how long this will all last?

BLIZZARD

You’re not going to be a gloomy pill tonight are you?

HENRY

I’m really rather happy.  It’s others who get gloomy.  You know this is all going to go away.

BLIZZARD

All what?  Never mind.  I don’t want to know.

HENRY

I knew you would say that, alas.

(PIERRE escorts MARLON and SARA up the stairs.  Both are also dressed very well, perhaps slightly overdressed for this place.)

MARLON

There they are!  Hey, why’d you pick this place?

HENRY

It’s a step up from my usual haunts.

SARA

I suppose.

(PIERRE sniffs in huffy annoyance.)

PIERRE

Mademoiselle, Monsieur.  Enjoy your meal.

(He scoots out as MARLON and SARA take their seats.)

MARLON

Seriously, though.  There are better restaurants, you know.

SARA

And excuse me, but who would name this restaurant “Chez du Maison”.  House of House?  That’s what it means, practically.

BLIZZARD

I overheard a couple of women in line at the Body Shoppe say that they liked this as a rendezvous to meet strangers they found on the Internet.

MARLON

Hm.  Thought I saw 2 likely candidates downstairs.

HENRY

I wanted a place that would be a mite pricier than usual, for my own reasons.  A decent place but not one where there would be high expectations. 

BLIZZARD

Henry’s about to go revolutionary on us.

SARA

Oh?  Another Mayan Calendar moment from Henry Crane-Lobos?

MARLON

Hey, those Yucatan bozos did predict Britney Spears’ troubles.

SARA

Let’s not forget Marshmallow Fluff and of course, the greys–

HENRY

Ha ha.  Make fun if you must.  Still the economic situation has got to have you both in knots.

(GÉRARD comes up the stairs and walks to their table.)

GÉRARD

Excuse me for interrupting.  I am Gérard and I will be serving you this evening.  Tonight’s specials are ground chicken-and-tuna brochettes sprinkled with corn chips and sauce du maison, and we also have a delightful vegetarian cassoulet with rosemary and dill.

MARLON

Huh.  Really.  Really?  Corn chips, huh.

SARA

That’s—well, I don’t know what to say.

GÉRARD

We have a delightful selection in our menu.  Usually.  Unfortunately, one of our major shipments has been delayed due to the derailment of a train in Ohio. 

(BLIZZARD, SARA and MARLON glare at HENRY.)

HENRY

Hey, don’t look at me!

BLIZZARD

I think we are all smelling eau du rat-fink.  What do you guys think?

SARA

Very suspicious, indeed.

(PIERRE comes up the stairs and urgently calls to GÉRARD.)

PIERRE

Gérard!  Gérard.  Excuse me, you fine gents and lady.  Gérard, s’il-vous plait.

(GÉRARD groans and rushes over to PIERRE.)

I was able to cobble together a few steaks from Le Central down the street…

GÉRARD

Hallelu—

(THEY go down stairs.)

SARA

OK, Henry.  What gives?

MARLON

He’s gloating.  See?  He’s gloating!

HENRY

Not at all!  I’m just smiling, haplessly and wistfully smiling.  All right, maybe I’m glowing, but not gloating.

SARA

You’re crazy.  Blizz, how do you put up with him?

BLIZZARD

“Yes, dear” and “Uh huh” come in handy.  So does “Whatever You say.”  Though I sense tonight will be different at Chez Doom Maison.

HENRY

I was wondering if you’d catch that possibility.  You’re so literary, honey. 

SARA
(muttering to herself
”but for others’ benefit”)

I wouldn’t be surprised if these people were just putting it on.  Ils mangeons France, no doubt.  They eat France.

HENRY

Honestly, guys, I didn’t know about this train derailment in Iowa or wherever.

MARLON

Ohio, Henry.  Canton, Ohio to be more specific.  It affected staff at the firm today as well.  We were supposed to get some materials for our expansion onto 7.

SARA

You mean the lights?  Which were already delayed out of where was it, Costa Rica?

MARLON

One of those Central American banana republics.

HENRY

Oh, you mean like Arizona?

MARLON

Ha ha ha.

HENRY

All in all, I’m reluctantly curious to see what they have that is available on their menu.  I don’t think they’ll be breaking out les doodle du fromage, do you?

BLIZZARD

Quelle domage, les doodles du fromage.  You know, we had a fight about this, Henry and me. 

SARA

About cheese doodles?  What?

BLIZZARD

I mean his attitude.  I said to him, “If that’s how you feel you should go off and live in a cave somewhere!”

MARLON

That’s telling him.

SARA

You’re that extreme, Henry?  I would never have guessed.  What are you chuckling about?

(GÉRARD enters, bringing a tray of wine and cheese.)

GÉRARD

Your drinks—oh, wait.  This is for downstairs. 

MARLON

We’ll take those.  At least Sara and I will.

(He pulls the glasses and the wine off the tray before GÉRARD can react.  He glares at MARLON who gloats.)

GÉRARD

May I take your order?

HENRY

Do you have the chicken remoulade tonight?

GÉRARD

May I suggest the pork medallions?  I’m sorry, I didn’t offend you did I?

HENRY

Um, no.  I’m not Jewish or Muslim.  I can eat pork.

(BLIZZARD raises one eyebrow at him.)

Yes?

BLIZZARD

Later.  How about T-Bones?  I heard you had some steaks.

GÉRARD

Oops.  They’ve already been claimed I’m afraid.  You know, it’s so weird that the train would affect us.  It didn’t have anything to do with food per se, but there were truck parts that didn’t get to our distributor, evidently and–

MARLON

Yes, yes, we get the picture.

SARA
(acidly to MARLON)

We are intimately aware of how everything is connected.

MARLON

This is gonna be some night, I can tell.

GÉRARD

Even though it sounds kind of gross, the ground chicken and tuna really is pretty good. 

BLIZZARD

4 Pork medallions, everyone?

SARA

That makes it easy. 

(PIERRE pokes his head in)

PIERRE

Pssst!  Gérard.  Downstairs, toot suite!

GÉRARD

Un moment, Pierre.  Soups or salads?

HENRY

3 salads, and what is the soup du jour?

GÉRARD

Beet-Split Pea with Celery Root or Chicken with Rice.

HENRY

4 salads then, 1 bleu cheese, 2 Italian and 1 Thousand Island.

SARA

I’m impressed!

HENRY

Thank you.

GÉRARD

We don’t have Thousand Island.  We do have Russian.

SARA

Oh, all right.  And French?

GÉRARD

Mais oui.  Both?

SARA

Yeah.  I love to mix my own.

(GÉRARD grabs up the menus and exits with PIERRE as MARLON gets up and walks over to the window with the wine bottle and his glass, and looks out.  He hums “Tomorrow” out-of-key.)

BLIZZARD
(whispering to SARA)

Is everything …?

SARA

We’ll get to that.  So.  Did you come into a windfall, Henry?  You don’t usually offer to take anyone out to dinner.

HENRY

Well, it’s like this.  Given that we are seeing a really huge debacle ahead of us –

BLIZZARD

Would you just stop it with that?  We don’t want to hear it.

SARA

Actually, I think I’m rather curious.  Given all that’s–

(MARLON hums louder.)

Hm. So, does this have anything to do with your mental issues?

BLIZZARD

Of course it does.  Why, the other day, his therapist—

HENRY

Hey, I’m still in the room.  Sara, I’ve always been a bit ahead of the curve.  I don’t always make the best choices still.  The huge student loan debt, and some paychecks at my job that leave me having to use Visa just to get groceries.

MARLON

Like that’s a bad thing.

BLIZZARD

Well, uh—honey are you sure you want to share your financial woes with –

SARA

Blizz, it’s really cool.  Looks like we’re all going to be in the same boat here sooner or later.  So.  You saw all of this coming, and you got depressed?

HENRY

Well, that’s not really what’s going on. 

BLIZZARD

You are so perverse!

HENRY

See, I’m kinda happy to see all this frou-frou fall to the wayside.  Goodbye to big box-store picking, and unlimited growth cancer.

(MARLON turns around in shock.  SARA’s eyes widen.  She whistles.)

SARA

Wow.  You’re much more extreme than I thought.

MARLON

How can you say such …  That’s like American blasphemy.  Treason even!

BLIZZARD

I can’t believe you would take this out of our house.

HENRY

They’re our friends.  And we count on each other.  This is my telling them I understand what’s going on, and what will probably befall us all sooner or later.

MARLON

I am not hearing this, I am not hearing this.

(He turns around and shouts out to all who will hear.)

I’m at a table with a crazy man!  A crazy man is wielding a … bread knife, yeah!

OFFSTAGE VOICE

Pipe down, woulja?  Some of us are trying to get to know one another!

MARLON

Yeah, well maybe I’d rather be with you guys than up here!  Who are those weirdoes standing around you anyway?

OFFSTAGE FEMALE VOICE

Oh my!  Does he see them?  Do you see … uh…

SARA

Marlon.  Stop it.  Now.  Don’t you think you should –

MARLON

I’m not ready.  I just …

BLIZZARD

So, how about that ASO concert?  I love it that David Alan Miller introduces us to contemporary works, don’t you?

HENRY

Blizzard, stop.  Shall I continue or—

SARA

Yes, go on.  It’s not what it seems?  You’re not really depressed?

BLIZZARD

Oh, he’s depressed all right.

HENRY

Let me tell it, OK?  As I’m going through my medication, I have to log in my general mood, and I noticed a curious thing.  Even with my Prozac, I get depressed around pay day.

MARLON

That’s weird.

HENRY

Indeed it is, Marlon.  I get depressed at pay day because I see all of my debts, and I think to myself, I’m going to have only enough to pay for groceries and still need to use a credit card to tide me over.  And I want to go out with my loving partner here and be an equal part in our relationship.  But I have $900 in debt repayment a month.  While working at a job that really doesn’t suit me, but that I do well enough to be courted by big people, you know?

SARA

We’ve often wondered why you don’t get into teaching.  But with a debt load like that, you’d starve.

BLIZZARD

Or have to move in… with someone.

MARLON

That’s not possible?

HENRY

We’ve talked.  It’s better this way.  Still, I’ve been aware for awhile that I need to change my ways, and furthermore that most of us are going to have a hard time looking at what needs to be done.  And while I really like it that people are coming out of the consumer sugar-coma, I also understand that they’re– meaning you’re— going to be pissed.  As Blizzard already seems to be.

BLIZZARD

Now who’s speaking for whom?

SARA

So you think we’re up against it?  There’s no hope?

HENRY

Depends on what hope means.  If you’re thinking “someday technology will fix this,” then no.  If it’s the active, I’ve got to come up with contingency plans and still ask for help kind of hope, then maybe we can talk.

MARLON

You’re just giving it all up, pal.  This is disgusting.

SARA

Sit. Your ass. Down. THIS INSTANT.

(MARLON sheepishly sits.)

What kind of plans are we talking here?

HENRY

I’m not really sure, Sara.  Just that I have to have faith, especially in you guys and Blizzard here, once you all start to come to terms with what I’ve been seeing for awhile now—

SARA

And that you haven’t been able to talk to us about because we’re … well, invested in all this.

BLIZZARD
(Stunned)

And it’s going away.

(GÉRARD enters with the salads.  They are large on iceberg and sliced carrots, light on everything else.  Even the salad dressing.)

GÉRARD

Voilá, the salads are served.

SARA

Wow.  Woulja look at this?

BLIZZARD

The train derailment interfered with your greens and produce?

GÉRARD

I don’t understand.

HENRY

It’s all right.  Really. 

GÉRARD

I forgot to ask with your pork medallions if julienned potatoes and mixed vegetables were all right.  Or we have rice and corn.

SARA

I think I’m going to cry.

BLIZZARD

The first will be fine.  Thanks.

(GÉRARD thinks about saying something, decides against it and leaves.)

SARA

You’re gonna have to tell them now.  I can’t take any more of this.

(SARA gets up from the table and walks to the window, pushing past MARLON who lumbers back to the table.)

MARLON

I’m being downsized.

BLIZZARD

No!  Marlon!

HENRY

You must be terrified.

MARLON

It’s all the fault of people like you!  You should be out shopping and muddling along. 

BLIZZARD

Oh, you don’t really believe that! 

MARLON

Maybe, maybe not.  There’s been like a thousand downturns in all sorts of industries, and there have been people saying “are you taking a look at what you’re doing?” and we just … Pooh-poohed them, saying they were just doom-and-gloomers.

HENRY

Like me.  You have your own versions then?

MARLON

Even the gentlest of proddings would get shot down.  I myself—well, I could say in retrospect I could see it, if I had half a brain.

SARA

Marlon—

MARLON

OK.  I’m not stupid. 

HENRY

Just in denial.  Like 4 of every 5 Americans. 

BLIZZARD

Honey!  Don’t be so cruel!

MARLON

Easy for you to say!

SARA

But it’s true.  Marlon, I’m just as culpable.  And useless.

HENRY

Well, that is where I part company with you.  Both of you are incredibly useful and talented.  It’s just you haven’t really seen what gorgeous creatures you are.

MARLON

What in blazes are you talking about?  You’re not trying to set up a four-way are you?

BLIZZARD
(trying to make light)

Well, I have been curious.  OK.  I’ll shut up now.

HENRY

I’m on Prozac partly because of Blizzard here, saying I’m hard to take.  But grief and despair are not supposed to be easy.  It’s painful to mourn a way of life, even one as toxic as ours has been.  When you weigh it all together. 

MARLON

So now he’s going to get environmental is he?

HENRY

I don’t have to.  Look, it’s like we’re all addicts, Marlon.  We have to be to just cope.  We all go to various pushers be it fast food or television or home shopping or hard drugs–hey, I’ve been carrying a piece of plastic in my wallet that allows me to get my fixes.  And we become pushers too, so that we can get by.  I work at a place like that, and so do each of you, whether you like it or not.  But you and Sara like your vino and vodka.  And Blizzard likes his things we can’t talk about.

BLIZZARD

Great.  Thanks for making me sound so savory!  It’s not like I’m in NAMBLA or doing crack or something.

HENRY

I love you, you sil-bot.  Remove these things, and we’re left with hollow feelings. It’s like you’re in the abyss.  This is all going to go away.  And that’s a good thing.

MARLON

I don’t want it.  I don’t like it.


BLIZZARD

None of us do.  Nobody likes to admit they can’t lick something, that there are forces larger than we are.  But we’ve been able to get through some storms of compulsions in the past, haven’t we buttercup?

SARA

You guys give off a power of example, all right.

MARLON

They give off something powerful all right.

HENRY

We can choose to stay afraid, and to try and fob off what we need to do on people who are only too willing to call themselves experts.  And look where these goons have taken us already.  Or we can come together and say “what can I do to help make this better?”  That’s what I’ve been hoping for. 

SARA

Can you help us make our mortgage payments?  I’m terrified that we’re going to lose the house.

MARLON

Well…  The house is, um…

SARA

I know you say it’s too big, but—

MARLON

Well, we really can do with less, you know.

BLIZZARD

This market though.  Maybe you can take in someone.

HENRY

At some point, I might have to find some place to go.  Though I’ll stick it out in my place as long as –

BLIZZARD

Henry, stop!  Of course I’ll take you in if it gets horrible. 

HENRY

I know you don’t want to have this conversation.

BLIZZARD

Heh.  I guess it’s time.  Who know that iceberg lettuce would change my life?

MARLON

Mighty strong stuff, iceberg.  The Titanic sank because of this?  Wow.

HENRY

The good news is that you have a nice yard.  You can put in a garden.

SARA

If we get to keep the place.

HENRY

You give a lot back to Milton Falls.  I’m sure Lenape County wants you to stick around.  Do you think the Town Sheriff will come by and evict you, and all the other people who are having problems?  Might take a heap o’ manpower there. 

SARA

It’s possible Sheriff Mike might see fit to do that.  Mayor Reynolds has been talking about some things too.

BLIZZARD

How’s your job doing there, Sara?

SARA

Well, I have several lines of income you know.  We’ll be set for at least something.  And maybe—well the Dawsons down the block might need our help. 

MARLON

Barry’s employed still.  I doubt that mechanical engineers are going to go jobless.

HENRY

Maybe you can pick up a new line of work, then?

MARLON

Maybe.  Hm.  Guess we need to think outside of the box?

HENRY

I think we need to destroy most of the boxes and build new ones.  Out of cob, strawbale and other things.

SARA

You’ve been thinking about metalwork, Marlon. 

MARLON

As a hobby!  But maybe blacksmiths will be needed again.

BLIZZARD

I think we need to start thinking about railroads again.

SARA

Maybe the Canal can be retooled. 

HENRY

See?  Now we’re starting to think things through.

(GÉRARD enters, carrying a tray with four dishes with meager amounts of food on them, artfully arranged.  He sets them in front of the bemused and horrified party.)

GÉRARD

Voilá.  Dinner is served.

(THE GUESTS look at each other and bust a gut.)

What is so funny?

HENRY

Tell you what.  I’ll settle up here, but let’s all go to Hannaford—

MARLON

While there’s still time!

SARA

Marlon!

HENRY

–and get 2 roast chickens and some veggies and go to Blizzard’s place for a real meal.

BLIZZARD

Why my place?

SARA

It’s closest.  And bigger than Henry’s too.

MARLON

Well, we can doggy bag these vittle-ettes, and take ‘em with us.

BLIZZARD

Whatever.  They might make nice appetizers.

(BLIZZARD nods at GÉRARD, who dutifully gathers up the plates and carries them off to be doggy-bagged.)

HENRY

Come on.  Let’s go, and we can play Scrabble.

BLIZZARD

Oh, great!  So you can gloat even more.

SARA

He has yet to test himself against my Scrabulous strategies, I might remind you.

(The party gets up and moves out as a unit, as PIERRE comes in.)

PIERRE

Excuse moi.  Leaving so soon?  Gérard barely brought out your dinners.

BLIZZARD

Sir, you did the best you could with what tonight brung you.  All the best.

MARLON

Yeah, this was all good for a laugh.

SARA

Ripsnorter this day has been all right.

(HENRY hangs back slightly as the others exit.)

HENRY

They don’t mean to be so offensive.  We’re taking dinner with us and going on the road. 

PIERRE

It’s because of that blasted derailment, isn’t it?  I told Mayor Jentunjatton that we should be getting our food locally, but he won’t hear of it.

(THEY walk down stairs.)

HENRY

Mayor Jentunjatton?  He owns this joint?  Well, what can you say to someone who’s made his moolah attracting chain stores to the area? 

PIERRE

We are all prisoners of Imperialist vermin.

HENRY

Well, even worms can turn, my good man.  The Empire strikes out.

PIERRE

From your lips to God’s ears.  Be sure to take some mints as you leave.

(SCENE)

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