The play is set in a coffee shop in a small town in Eastern Ontario.  Two burley men—Clifton and Henry—sit at the counter, finishing their coffees.

Clifton (looking at his wristwatch): What time is it?

Henry (clearly bored with Clifton):  Why?

Clifton (glancing out to the street): They’re supposed to be picking me up. 

Henry (bored): Who?

Clifton (anxious, but trying to sound offhand): The others.

Henry (absently): Well, if they said they’d pick you up, then they will.

Clifton:  I better phone.

Henry (exasperated):  No, you don’t have to phone.  They’ll be here.

Clifton (seeking comfort):  How do you know?

Henry (bored again):  Well, you said they always pick you up, don’t they?

Clifton (nervously): What time is it now?

Henry (curtly):  Same as it was before.

Clifton (perturbed):  It couldn’t be!

Henry: Well, pretty close to it.

Clifton (looking around anxiously):  I gotta find somebody else to ask!

Henry (growing tired of it all):  Why?

Clifton:  To see what time they have.

Henry (angry):  You always do that!!  You ask me the time and I tell you and then you don’t believe it!

Clifton (calmly):  I believe it.  I just don’t trust it.

Henry: Trust it?

Clifton:  Well, it’s always different.  How can you trust that?  How can you trust any one time?

Henry:  Well, there’s always standard time.  You could trust that.

Clifton (despairingly):  But where do you find it?  You can never find it!

Henry (with finality):  It’s an act of faith, Clifton.  You have to trust all that Absolute stuff!!


Play #76—We Used to Spin Like Tops

Two older children are sitting stiffly in chairs, placed opposite to one another, in their parents’ living room.  The girl, Helen, is thirteen years old.  Her brother, Mark, is fifteen.  They sit for a long while in silence until, finally, Helen speaks:

[Note:  Helen’s first speech is taken directly from Helene Cixous, Insister of Jacques Derrida (Stanford University Press, 2007, p. 23]

Helen (tentatively):  Do you remember when we used to spin like tops?

Mark (enthusiastically): Bounce like rubber balls!

Helen (excited):  We Leapt like kites!

Mark (equally excited)Floated like feathers!

[There is a lengthy pause]   

Helen:  But of course that’s when Granddad was still alive.

Mark: Yes.  And Mama and Papa.

Helen: And Aunt Jessica

Mark: Yes.

Helen:  And the dog.  What was his name? 

Mark:  Her name.  It was a female.  Her name was Linda

Helen (absently):  That’s right, Linda.

Mark:  Do you miss her?

Helen:  Who?

Mark:  Linda.

Helen (vaguely):  Oh yes, certainly.  We had a bird too, didn’t we?  What was its name?

Mark (sullen): Linden.

Helen (clapping her hands in delight):  Linden!  Really?  That’s delightful!!  A wonderful name for a parrot!

Mark: It was a budgie. 

Helen (brightly):  Are you sure?

Mark (crossly):  Of course I’m sure.

[There is another lengthy pause]  

Helen (resignedly):  Well, it doesn’t matter.

Mark:  No.  Not now.


Play #75: The Phantom Gardener

The play is set in a Horticultural Heaven—a subsidiary of the Greater Heaven.  The Heavenly Gardener, Saint Herbaceous, sits at a high desk.  He holds a golden trowel in his hand.  Before him, quaking in his sneakers, sits a little man in spandex shorts and T-shirt.  He carries a small pair of rusting secateurs.

Saint Herbaceous (outraged): …You mean to tell me you would sneak into a garden that was not your own and prune the shrubs—without the owners’ knowledge?

Phantom Gardener (trembling with fright): Yes.

SH: Tell me, what would you do, on a typical pruning trip?

PG (thinking back): Well, this year, I pruned a Quince, a few roses and a Rose of Sharon bush.

SH (furious):  Numbskull !!  You don’t prune quinces or Roses of Sharon!!  And according to our source, you cut the rose bushes back almost to nothing!

PG (abject): I did what I thought best.

SH (with heavy sarcasm):  And how often would inflict on this unsuspecting garden the supposed benefits of your great garden wisdom?

PG (thinking back):  Once a year.  Every autumn.

SH: Why would you do such a thing?

PG: (in a small, shaky voice):  Well, you see, Your Greenness, I used to work for the garden’s former owners, and I’m not at all certain the present owners know much about the gardening at all!

SH (irritated):  That’s not what I hear.  As I understand it, the present owner of the garden is a very capable—indeed inspired—gardener!  And she is understandably dismayed to find evidence, every spring, of the cutting and trimming you have taken upon yourself to undertake!  It is NOT your garden.  Indeed, it never was!!

PG (humbly):  I still think I know best about that garden.

SH (outraged):  Well I say you know nothing at all about it—and deplorably little about any kind of gardening!!

[The Phantom Gardener is now silent and afraid]

SH:  You must now be chastised—in a way that will hopefully do some good.

PG (terrified):  And what would that be, all Green-Knowing One?

SH (with crushing finality):  You will wear a gigantic pair of heavy iron secateurs around your neck for the rest of your life!  And you will never again visit that garden you have so selfishly pillaged over these past few years.   [addressing the garden-guards who are waiting offstage]  Now take this miscreant away to be fitted with that great weight of his own devising!!!!

[The Phantom Gardener is led away]

SH:  I must now find a way to make reparations to the garden’s distressed owner.  Perhaps I’ll send her a dozen rare everblooming rose bushes.  Yes, I think she’d like that. And perhaps a Quince that bears solid gold berries in the early spring.