A LEMON - A Play
A living room of an apartment with a couch in the middle, a coffee table right in front of it, a kitchenette behind it and little side tables. Wooden crates take up almost all of the free space of the room and there is a man with his back turned away lying on the couch, evidently sleeping. The night is approaching which indicates that people are coming home from work. A slam of a door off stage causes the man to snort a bit and turn over on his back. More hallway noise irrupts and the man sighs indignantly and resolves to rise. He rubs his face and hair and we can see that he is in a bathrobe with makeshift pajamas underneath. He reaches toward the coffee table and instinctively grasps a glass that seems to be filled with water and takes a sip. For the first time, he opens his eyes and looks around the room unconsciously, and jerks once he realizes there are crates encasing him. Putting the glass down, he shifts his body all around and slides over to the end of the couch toward the nearest crate. He opens it fervently and picks up a lemon from inside. He stares at it then goes over to the next crate and finds more lemons. He does this once more and looks around the room again, as if waiting for the answer to pop out one of the open crates.
N: What the hell? Where did these lemons come from? (picks up a lemon to examine) Well, it feels pretty real… this can't be a dream. Maybe my roommate is messing with me. (moves toward the left side of the room toward a door) Cynical! What's going on out here? (opens door and pokes his head in) He's at work then… also, he's not much of a jokester. Where did these lemons come from? (looks around and begins to get nervously excited)
CYNICAL enters. He comes in from work in a suit, bringing groceries and a satchel. He sees NAÏVE first and greets him as he puts the bag down on the nearest table.
C: Hey, Naïve. (looks around with shifty eyes, noticing the piles of crates for the first time) What's with the boxes?
NAÏVE glances up with the lemon still in his hand and motions at CYNICAL with it.
N: They're everywhere. The lemons! (walks closer to CYNICAL and is steadily becoming more dramatic) I woke up with these things around me like seven minutes ago! (grabs the glass of water and takes another sip)
C: Where did they come from?
N: Who knows!? They're here now! What do we do with them? (picks up another lemon and tries to get CYNICAL to take it)
C: (steps away from NAÏVE toward his room) One, I don't understand how you can drink sugar-water and nothing else and still be alive. Two, I don't have time and I don't care. Just get them the fuck out of here. (NAÏVE sputters) JUST DO IT.The lemony stench is probably already seeping into the carpet fibers. Get them out.
CYNICAL exits. NAÏVE is left alone with two lemons and the glass of sugar-water in his hands and no ideas of how to rid them from his life. He looks down at them with interest. He sighs, putting them on the coffee table and sits down.
N: This is ridiculous. I'll think about this tomorrow. (lies down)
CYNICAL enters. He has a different tie on and is fixing it more securely around his neck. He looks around and finds NAÏVE asleep on the couch. Squatting down next to him, CYNICAL taps him on the head, startling NAÏVE awake. NAÏVE props himself up on his elbow and looks at CYNICAL.
C: Are you thinking up any special plans in the midst of your slumber?
NAÏVE stares around the room and is somewhat surprised to see the crates of lemons still ever present.
N: (groggy) Er, getting there.
CYNICAL walks over to the door, putting on his suit jacket.
C: All right, well I'm going to go to work, where I get paid for the jobs I do which translate into food and rent for us. (condescending) YOUR job is to figure out how to get these lemons out of here by week's end. (pauses) Think you can handle that?
N: (unnoticing of CYNICAL's look of superiority) Yeah, they'll be out. I'll think of something.
CYNICAL exits. NAÏVE is left alone once again. He sits up right and gazes around the room blearily. He yawns, messing with his hair, and slaps his face in order to make himself more alert. Grabbing a few lemons from the nearest crate, he begins work as background music fades into the air.
CYNICAL goes in and out of the apartment with different ties. NAÏVE continues his work unceasingly until CYNICAL comes in from work on the third day to find NAÏVE attempting his sixth project with obvious exhaustion, nodding off every few seconds.
C: Dude, you've been working for like three straight days. (motions toward the empty glass near a pile of lemons) Can I get you a refill?
NAÏVE mumbles incoherently and CYNICAL pours water into the glass. He brings it back with a look of disgust poorly disguised as he sets it down in front of NAÏVE.
C: How can you drink that stuff? (as he walks away) I mean, SUGAR-WATER. It has no flavor or anything—nothing.
NAÏVE straightens as he grabs the glass of sugar-water and takes a sip. He enjoys the little moment and then he jerks in place. He stares at the glass as a grin spreads across his face.
NAÏVE stands up suddenly, holds the glass out in front of him.
N: THAT'S IT!
NAÏVE has worked throughout the night on his idea and has become even more frazzled. There are cups and pitchers around him as abundant as the crates, all filled with a green liquid that vary by shade. He is on the couch working when CYNICAL comes in on his way to work. NAÏVE hears the door and turns.
CYNICAL enters. NAÏVE stands up with a cup of green liquid in his hand and cuts into CYNICAL's path to the door.
N: (spastic) DUDE! I've got it! I'm a genius! I've figured it out!
C: (immediately annoyed) I'm going to be late for work if you don't get out of my way, can you figure that out? (tries to get around NAÏVE)
N: (blocks him) No, man! It's the best idea in the world! After working all night, I've got it down. And it's all thanks to you, buddy! (grabs CYNICAL's shoulder in a thankful gesture, lets go and walks in a circle but never getting out of CYNICAL's way) It's completely radical, brilliant, sensational! A revolutionary proposal that will turn the world of drinks on its ear!
C: (exasperated) What is it?
N: I call it lemon sugar-water. It'll make us millions! We can get out of this apartment and you won't have to be the only one working. You can QUIT your job once this is all settled! Try it!
NAÏVE forces the glass into CYNICAL's hand and takes a step back to let him enjoy the glory that is his mind. CYNICAL looks as him warily and then takes the plunge, half knowing that NAÏVE wouldn't poison him.
C: (sips again and looks at NAÏVE incredulously) Dude, this is lemonade.
N: Lemon sugar-water. Unless you think… laymonard is better for a sales pitch.
C: First, it's leh-mon-nayd. Second, it's lemonade. Sugar, water, and lemon jui—
N: (incredibly surprised) HOW DID YOU KNOW MY CONCOCTION INGREDIENTS!?
C: I don't know how you've never seen this, but it's already been done! The Egyptians beat you by about 1500 years, not to mention Minute Maid, Country Time, Kool-aid, Hawaiian Punch! (walks across the room and pulls out a pouch of lemonade powder mix) We HAVE it in our kitchen! (mutters) How the hell did you make it green!
N: (cuts in instantly) I haven't heard of those… people! (clutching a different glass to his chest) They must not be that big if I haven't heard of them! And I still don't know why you keep saying "leha-mon-nerd." (reaches into the nearest box and piles lemons into his arms) But sure, fine! If YOU say that my unique and excellent plan has been replicated, fine by me!
NAÏVE grabs a sack of sugar and stalks over to CYNICAL's bedroom. CYNICAL has picked up his jacket and satchel, inching nearer to the door. NAÏVE swings around and points a finger at CYNICAL.
N: But I hope you realize that you've given me full permission to say "I told you so!" when my lemon sugar-water is the best thing since sliced bread!
NAIVE turns toward the bedroom door but stops short when CYNICAL speaks.
C: It already is one of the best things since sliced bread! You know why?! BECAUSE IT'S BEEN PERFECTED OVER THE LAST 1500 YEARS!And when this whole thing blows up, you'll be glad that I'm the breadwinner between the two of us anyways!
NAÏVE and CYNICAL both exit, doors slamming to enunciate their respective points.
NAÏVE is as frazzled as ever. His clothes are stained, his hair is a mop, his shorts are hiked up past his belly button. Several handmade promotional posters screaming "Lemon Sugar-water" in different fonts are around the room; lemon skins are lying on the floor; several crates have been cracked open; mounds of sugar are crawling with joyous ants. The apartment is a tragic mess with only NAÏVE in sight among the heaps and stacks of his failure. A knock is heard at the door and NAÏVE jumps.
He half-shuffles, half-jogs to the door and opens it. A DELIVERY MAN comes in rather upbeat with a crate of lemons in his arms. He dresses similarly to a UPS man (shirt and shorts matching in color with a small logo) and his company's name (L.I.F.E., Inc.) is printed on the left side of his shirt.
DELIVERY MAN: I've got a big box of lemons here for a, uh, Mr. Naïve, is it?
NAÏVE stares at him in agony and despair, so very upset that his brilliant idea has turned into a cloud of smoke when he believed there was a sack of gold.
N: If Life gives you lemons, never make lemon sugar-water.
NAÏVE shoves him out the door and slams it in his face. NAÏVE stares at the door in fear and backs away from it until he is near the couch again. He mutters a little as he grabs a lemon and his ever-persistent glass of sugar-water, mimicking the position he had been in during his lemon sugar-water epiphany. He let the glass drop, shattering as vividly as his dream had. Giving up, NAÏVE walks off stage slowly, heads over to CYNICAL's room, closes the door. A single shot resonates through the room.