Visiting – A One Act Play

> Author’s Note: I wrote this play a couple years ago as part of a theater class. I had so much fun writing it and having it read in class that I wanted to share here with “just a few more” people. Hope you enjoy! -BV

Visiting – A One Act Play

Man seated alone at a booth in a busy coffee shop café – lots of loud chattering, sounds of espresso machines, baristas shouting for customers and some indiscriminate music playing. The man, Gus, is dressed in a plain gray t-shirt, sweat pants and tennis shoes. A second man, Jack, dressed in a button down shirt, blue jeans and boots sits down with Gus.

GUS. I had an out of body experience

JACK. Oh whatever

GUS. Seriously, just before you walked in, I felt myself … my inner Self … leave this table – being pulled upward and away, panning out until I could very distinctly hear every single noise  … at … ONCE. (Gus’s face tinged with giddiness and eyes wide with excitement)

JACK. Ya know, I don’t need to know everything that goes on inside your mind.

GUS. Harsh. Fuck me for sharing.

JACK. Well – I wasn’t prepared to be greeted by something so … you.

GUS. YOU don’t know half of what goes on in my mind. (Pausing, body language shifting from aggressive and combative to cool and aloof) Besides, you made a deal.

JACK. That I did.

Silence – each staring in opposite directions.

JACK. Have you experienced that before?

GUS.  Huh? Oh – the out of body thing? Yea. Couple times … to be truthful, I’m attempting to develop that skill … delve into it and see where it leads.

JACK. No – the separate togetherness like those two over there. (Pointing to two women sharing a small table, each on their laptops with headphones in, heavy ceramic dirty dishes shoved to the side). You ever experience that before?

GUS. All the time my brother, all the time.

JACK. (Rolling eyes) But what do you think their story is?

GUS. I dunno … could be mutual support of separate goals … or a mutually forced goal being reached separately.

JACK. Huh?

GUS.  (Impatiently, as if having to explain a basic concept AGAIN)  *sighs* It could be that one is working on a play that she is certain will put her name in lights and the other is taking online classes to further her career so they are here together in support of each other. OR, they are both here because they are being forced to spend time together- really can’t stand each other, so escape into their separate realities- and their parents think they are bonding.

JACK. Most people want to escape from reality…

GUS. Fools. (Muttering, quoting Shakespeare) “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

JACK. It’s just a universal human coping mechanism – in hard times, we seek release and escape.

GUS. It’s the illusion of a fool – an American fool specifically. We created the reality we cannot stand … and instead of investing our time in taking responsibility for it, we invest our time in someone else’s concept of escape and relaxation.

JACK. Gus, sometimes Life just happens to people – they didn’t create or choose an accident, or a disease or their frickin’ childhood…. sometimes Life just IS.

GUS. True, they may not have chosen the circumstances and specific experience, but they choose who they become in regards to it.

JACK. That’s different.

GUS. Think so?

JACK. Yeah. It’s called therapy. Which you still need, by the way.

GUS. So you say. The only therapy I need is a walk in the woods.

JACK. So you say. (sighs)  I need some tea therapy … want anything? It’ll be my treat.

GUS. Nah. I’m good.

JACK. OK.

GUS. Come back? (in a tone full of question and doubt, almost childish)

JACK. I will.

(Jack returns with large steaming mug of tea. Gus takes a long deep inhale, smelling the tea.)

JACK. Geesh, smell much?

GUS. Oh it smells incredible! Must have sage in it? You can nearly smell and taste the Mother! Mmmm love it!

JACK. Interesting nose you got there.

GUS. Thanks, it’s my mom’s. Hers has this slantied look to it too …. I think my nostrils are over-sized, though.

JACK. I meant your sense of smell.

GUS. Oh. Yeah. (Beat.) But, don’t you agree, that at some point, we begin to create our own reality? At some stage of our maturity, we stop reacting to what we think is reality and start creating it? I mean, nothing is really real until we sense it and then decide to see it.

JACK. So…  the sidewalk outside – doesn’t exist unless you look at it?

GUS. Yes, but no. It exists, but is apart from my reality. My reality is the here-now. My voice, your face, this table … all the other things fade away into the background – a sort of blurry, surreal non-reality.   So much of Life is like that. The entire world really – exists but it is outside of your reality.

JACK. For YOU, maybe.

GUS. For me – and for you and for anyone else who’s willing to be opened.

JACK. Opened?

GUS. Yeah.

(Both quiet …. Gus begins quickly surveying the room, eyes darting from table to table, almost frantically.)

GUS. 24 worlds.

JACK. Huh?

GUS. In this room, there are 24 groups of people, each group in its own world. So there are 24 worlds in this room. And within each world, there’s at least two more worlds. (Then thoughtfully) But you can’t tell if their worlds are enmeshing into one or colliding and falling apart … intertwining or unwinding…

(Both quiet again, Gus lost in thought and Jack unmoving, Jack showing no emotion and reflecting no emotion. Gus begins to focus upon a particular person.)

JACK. (Flatly) Why are you staring at him?

GUS. I’m trying to make him look at me.

JACK. You can do that?

GUS. At times, still learning the finesse. (Still focused upon his task) Ah … he senses me … c’mon look at me … Nah. I can’t reach him – he’s too insulated. He’s like anything – has to be opened before it can work.

JACK. And you’re open.

GUS. Yes. … Maybe… too far …. me wonders

JACK. Explain?

GUS. Nah – never mind.  (still staring at the man)

JACK. Serious. I want to know. I’m curious

GUS. No. let it go. THERE! I MADE HIM LOOK!

JACK. Whatever – his eyes were panning the room and they just hesitated on you since you’re dressed like a homeless hippie.

GUS. (Scoffs)

(Stage lights fade out until there is just a single spotlight upon Gus and Jack).

JACK. I saw Joey the other day.

GUS. Yeah? (seeming to snap back to Jack) How is the scumbag?

JACK. He’s… rebuilding. But that’s what you gotta do when boyfriend finds out about girlfriend and girlfriend finds out about boyfriend.

GUS. The dude needs testing. (with disgust)

JACK. Really? Do you have to be so hateful towards him?

GUS. No- I mean for STD’s – though we already know he’s a social disease.  HA HA! But I mean for anything that he could’ve infected Jake and Delores with. Infected… Such a word (looking off in the distance). IN-FEC-TED… INFECT – ED … In-FEC-ted … IN-fec-ted. INFECTED!

JACK. Shhh … people are staring.

GUS. Screw ‘em.

JACK. Seriously – breathe.

GUS. Ok. (Taking a deep breath) Breathing.

JACK. Better?

GUS. Yeah. I guess I shouldn’t start a personal experiment in public.

JACK. Correct … as long as you behave – you know, rationally – you can be here.

GUS. Out here, you mean?

JACK. Well, yeah.

GUS. I’m fine. (Settling back in the booth … then suddenly, with child-like excitement) did you hear the snow last night?

JACK. No.

GUS. I did! It was around 10:17 when I noticed it … falling in huge beautiful flakes! So I dashed outside to stand in it looking STRAIGHT UP! It was awesome! The falling and falling and falling …. Huge flakes! Tasted like artic ice!  Then my feet got cold, so I went back inside, and put my boots on. Then went for a walk.  With my coat – I wore my coat, too.

JACK. Good.

GUS. See – I’m trainable. (Suddenly adult)  I just hate it.

JACK. I think you are the only one who can hear snow.

GUS. Of course I can, I’m open.

JACK. Yeah … you are. And I like that.

GUS. I can also feel a hawk’s call.

JACK. I know. (Long pause looking intently at Gus) Ya know, I don’t think you are as “alike” everyone else as you think you are. You NOTICE, others dismiss.

GUS. But they CAN notice. They could live life in bright Technicolor, too … instead of all these shades of beige and khaki.  Bleckie

JACK. That’s what I mean- the difference is you made the choice. You didn’t miss the chance.

GUS. No, I didn’t.  But, look where’s it’s gotten me.

JACK. Yeah ….. But this isn’t all bad is it? At least you get to talk to me.

GUS. I guess that’s some consolation.

(Both staring at the center of the table, both seeming to ponder the same memory of an event)

JACK. You miss Earl?

GUS. (Calmly) Sometimes … but not enough to call upon him. Besides, I have the power of creation now … I don’t need the protection of some angel.

JACK. Is that how it works? Our guardian angels watch out for us until we’re …. opened?

GUS. To a (suddenly jumping up.) HEY! THAT MAN DOESN’T HAVE ANY PANTS ON! (The spot light focuses tighter to include just Gus, Jack exits the stage)

Oh wait … sorry.

(Gus suddenly realizes the man has on khakis, sits back down embarrassed and almost trying to hide in his chair. As Gus is realizing  his error, the stage lights come back up to reveal the stark community room of a mental hospital – a couple other patients shuffling about, at the nurse’s station sits a gentleman with a purple scrub top and khaki pants. A woman dressed as a nurse approaches.)

JANE. Gus, everything ok? You with me?

GUS. (Startled and almost stammering) Hey, hey Jane … yeah, yeah, everything’s ok. I’m with you. (Looking around – suddenly quite self-conscious and glancing towards the khaki man)

GUS. Should I go?

JANE. No … I think you’re ok – that’s Gary. He’s new, but he’s ok. He’ll be here every evening for a while.

GUS. He cool?

JANE. Yeah, he’s cool. Has a steadiness about him.

GUS. Ok. Good – can I go back to my conversation now?

JANE. Sure – just remember our deal. If self-management becomes difficult and you need help to the door…

GUS. … I come to the sliding window and ask for the check.

JANE.  Yep, and I’ll escort you safely to the door. We good?

GUS. Yeah … we good.

JANE. Good. (Jane turns to go back to the nurses’ station.)

GUS. Except … you never take me to the door that leads outside…you only take me to the door of my room.

– THE END –