Short Play # 35: Ice

The play can be set in any small Eastern Ontario town—like Napanee, for example—early in the morning of Friday, April 12, 2013.  There has been freezing rain all night long,
and now, just after dawn, there is a glistening shell of ice
over everything.  Shrubs and bushes glitter like diamonds.  Tree limbs ache with the unaccustomed weight of the ice.  Drivers nudge their cars carefully along the streets, fearful of skids and spins. 
The odd thing is that, despite the elaborate caution with which the fall of ice has visited the world, the garbage collectors—who normally grasp at any excuse not to pick up the trash—are today out in force, breezy and efficient.

There are two characters in the play: a garbage collector and an icebound homeowner.

Homeowner (greatly surprised at the sudden appearance, in this monotonal iceworld, of a great creamy beige garbage truck looming up before the house):  You!!

Garbage Collector (amused):  You were expecting maybe Admiral Peary? Or Samuel Hearne?  Henry Hudson?

H:  I really wasn’t expecting anyone at all!

GC:  Why not?  It takes more than a few pellets of ice to discourage the Sanitation Department!

H:  But that’s simply not true.  I’ve known you refuse to come out during a warm rain or a gust or two of wind!

 GC:  Sir, you slander us.  Nothing keeps us from our appointed rounds!

H:  Well, it’s too cold to stand here and argue the point.

GC: Yes, please don’t.  It’s wounding.  We love ice.  Ice is jut frozen water.  Two gasses suddenly, miraculously, grown hard as glass.  Party ice!  Ice is nature’s costume jewelry.   Ice is petrified drama: ice unknitteth the finished sleeve of care!

H: What was that last statement?

GC: Shakespeare.  Hamlet.   

H: Oh it was not!

GC: Yes it was.  We sanitation engineers know the classics!

H:  It’s cold and I’m going back in now [there is a long pause].  Well, aren’t you going to load my garbage bags onto your truck?

GC:  Not just like that, not right in front of you.  It’s a bit awkward.  You see, we’re very delicate about this sort of thing.  We don’t like to be observed.  You should go back in the house, and THEN we’ll load up your garbage.

H: I don’t understand.

GC:  Neither do we, entirely.  It’s a certain abashment within us.  A diffidence.  It’s just our way.  Surely you can honour that?

H:  I suppose.

GC:  Thank you, shivering homeowner, for your understanding.

H: You’re welcome.

GC: We know it.  We know we are.  We are as welcome as birds in the Spring.  Well, goodbye now. And thank you for your thoughtful contribution to the town’s garbage stocks.

H (turning to go back inside): It was nothing.

GC: Oh, please don’t ever say that!