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.