Break Time Conservation

A Play In One Act

by

Mevelyn Ann McCloud

Break Time Conversation is a work of fiction.

All characters and events portrayed are either fictitious or are used fictitiously.

Acknowledgment

I thank God for the words.

Other stories

by

Mevelyn Ann McCloudA Bird's Point Of View
And Who Do You Say I Am?
Ain't No Tall Tales Here
Cleo And RedMan
For Lack Of A Musician
Landmarks
Love Is Enough.
Sparrow In My Hand
Works Of The Flesh

Cast of Characters

Heather Marsh:

A woman in her early 20s. She wears a white-sleeveless-high-collared-v-neck blouse with pastel green pedal pushers and slip-on beige canvas shoes with no socks.

Joe Taylor:

A man in his mid-20s. He wears a pastel-blue, long-sleeved, button-cuffed, Winsor-collared shirt buttoned all the way up. A dark-brown, all-weather-wool blazer. His dark-brown penny loafers had a dime where the penny was supposed to go and, at this time, he wears the shoes with "pimp" socks. Joe never goes without a blazer. His fellow employees describe him as, "always looking crisp" and "all he needs is a tie and he's corporate."

Eric Washington:

A man in his early 20s; older than Heather but younger than Joe. Eric has a fondness for tartan designs. The fabric depends on the season. In this Spring weather, at this time, he wears a cotton shirt with a blue tartan design as if it was a jacket, an undershirt nicknamed "wife-beater," faded jeans, and canvas shoes with no socks.

Scene

Outside a two-story office building is southwest Portland, Oregon.

Time

The present.

ACT I

SETTING:

The front exterior of a two-story building reminiscent of a two-story motel, but in fact is a two-story office complex in the shape of a square 'u' that has exterior access.

Stage Right there are two offices, two doors, on the first and second floors. Stage Left there are two offices, two doors, on the first and second floors. Up Stage there are three front offices, two corner offices, and five doors, on the first and second floors.

The second floor access is a balcony-like construction supported by 8 pillars and providing overhang cover for the first floor access. In the well of the 'u' are two stone benches stretching from down stage to upstage and far enough apart to provide a 4 foot center path. By each corner pillar is a cigarette receptacle filled with sand. The same type of receptacle is by the stage-left-bench on the upstage end. The same type of receptacle is by the stage-right-bench on the down stage end.

AT RISE:

An empty stage with the exception of the set construction. The audience sees the front exterior of the office building.

ERIC

(bursts on the stage from stage right, extends his arms like the Vitruvian Man while he shows his face to the 'sky.')

Aahhhoooo. I am on fire

(punches the air, then spins to face Heather and Joe as they join him from stage right at a normal walking pace and points his right index finger while walking backwards.)

I have sold 20 magazine subscriptions already this evening and it's just seven thirty and we started at six.

(faces forward while he takes a pack of Kreteks from his shirt pocket. He heads for the stage-left-bench and sits while he fires up. Joe and Heather follow him and positions themselves out of the line of smoke but Eric blows skyward. Throughout their conversation he smokes when he isn't talking.)

JOE

That's on fire alright.

ERIC

(notices their positions)

I take it you two don't smoke?

HEATHER

I don't. I gave it up five years ago after I looked up the word "nicotine" in the dictionary.

ERIC

Five years ago? How old are you now?

HEATHER

Twenty-two.

ERIC

A couple of years under me. How old are you Joe?

JOE

Twenty-six.

ERIC

Mmm, young European-Americans.

JOE

(turns to Heather)

What did the dictionary say?

HEATHER

That nicotine is a poison and when mixed with water it used as an insecticide. So, I decided to stop poisoning myself.

ERIC

We all gotta die of something.

HEATHER

If I ever decide to commit suicide I prefer the rapidity of a bullet to brain instead of the slowness of cigarette smoking.

ERIC

So you think smokers are committing suicide?

HEATHER

What do you call it when someone knowingly and willingly puts poison in their body?

ERIC

Why don't you blow, Joe?

JOE

I'm a Christian. My body is the Temple of God. The Bible says it is a sin to defile the Temple of God.

HEATHER

(spotlight 3rd degree like)

So that means you also eat balanced meals, exercises regularly and gets proper rest, right?

JOE

(sheepishly)

Well, I get enough rest.

(sits on the stage-left-bench)

ERIC

Looks like Miss Perfect here has us over a barrel, Joe.

JOE

Yeah, silicone will do that you.

HEATHER

(sits on the stage-right-bench)

Men. You make us women self-conscious about the size of our breasts and how beautiful we are, then make fun of us when we try to make ourselves meet your standards.

JOE

Natural is always better.

ERIC

Yeah. When it comes to breast size, all a man needs is a mouth full.

HEATHER

Women want to also be loved, not just laid. We want to be loved, appreciated, and respected for who we are inside not outside. You men don't seem to get that.

JOE

That works both ways, you know, we men want that too.

ERIC

Unconditional acceptance, unconditional love.

HEATHER

Everybody's wantin' it, talkin' about it, but nobody's givin' it.

ERIC

I have to agree with you on that, not even the so-called Christians and they're supposed to be representatives of a God of love.

JOE

(emphasizes 'the')

The God of Love.

ERIC

The point is, you are supposed to extend unconditional love and acceptance while you spread the "Good News" around, like Jesus did, but most of you don't. Just look at how you treat the Gays.

JOE

(defensively)

Homosexuality is a sin.

HEATHER

The last time I looked, the Bible said, "God hates sin but loves the sinner."

ERIC

You Christians are just as hypocritical as the rest of us.

HEATHER

The last time I looked, the Bible said, "God hates the sin of hypocrisy just as much as He hates the

(her fingers form quotation marks as she speaks in a tone that says only Christians believe homosexuality is a sin.)

sin of homosexuality."

(signs that tempers are slowly turning to anger.)

JOE

(defiantly)

All those people who don't want to live for God are always calling Christians hypocrites.

ERIC

(a decibel shy of shouting)

You so-called Christians are always saying we don't want to live for God when in fact we don't want to live by your interpretation of what the Bible is saying.

(silence. Joe springs from the bench, turns his back to them facing the audience, steps to the down stage end of the bench, steps toward stage left, and then continues down stage while stuffing his hands into his pockets. He stands at stage edge and look out at the "traffic." Heather, seated with her head down, grips the bench on either side of her, leans forward a little, and contemplates the ground. Eric, seated, contemplates the lit end of his cigarette after flicking off the ash.)

HEATHER

(still contemplating the ground)

If everyone and I mean everyone

(looks at Joe and Eric while she ticks off fingers)

politicians, country leaders, rich people, poor people,

(her hands in front of her torso palms down start center then spreads out to either side of her, left hand left, right hand right.)

everyone on the planet. If before we spoke or acted, we took the time to ask ourselves, "How do I want this person to treat me," then, regardless of the response, treated that person in that manner there would be no wars, no poverty, and no crime.

(Eric snorts out a laugh)

JOE

(still watching the traffic, in a manner and tone that says, 'dream on.')

Right. Everyone.

(Joe turns from watching the traffic in time to see Eric stand and pivot to put his back to the building while stabbing the butt of his cigarette into the receptacle and giving Heather a look that says, 'grow up and get your head out of the clouds.)

HEATHER

(defensively because of Eric's look)

It could work.

Eric gives his head a little shake that says 'pity the fool,' as he walks stage right and exits. Heather stands to watch him leave. Joe follows a beat later. He stops at the door, turns to Heather, and sweeps his right arm in a lavished 'after you' gesture.)

HEATHER

(in a tone that says, 'surely you believe.')

Joe?

JOE

(in a tone that says, 'it would take a massive miracle for that to happen.')

From your mouth to God's ear.

HEATHER

But …

JOE

(interrupting)

It's a dream, Heather. It's a nice dream but it will never come to pass. It's just not in the nature of us human beings to heed the Golden Rule or turn the other cheek.

HEATHER

But Joe, all humans want to live free in peace and harmony.

JOE

(gesturing with his hands as he talks)

Yes we do and we're all thinking it is the responsibility of someone else to make that a reality. Granted, some people will strive to heed the Golden Rule and even turn the other cheek. They are not thought of as being courageous or strong willed. They're thought of as being weak, a wimp, or a coward. From the time we are old enough to interact with others we are taught, 'you get hit, you hit back.'

HEATHER

Not everyone.

JOE

We are not able to live and let live. We each think 'what works for me is the right way.' Anyone who doesn't agree is saying 'I'm wrong' and is therefore a potential enemy.

HEATHER

Not everyone is like that, Joe.

JOE

No, everyone, but most. Enough so that as long as there is more than one human a live there will never be peace and harmony on this planet.

HEATHER

(drops her shoulders)

I will concede that we humans are confrontational. So I suppose you're right, but it doesn't hurt to dream.

JOE

(Heather walks towards him)

No it doesn't.

HEATHER

(stands in front of him and faces him)

It doesn't hurt to hope.

JOE

No it doesn't. As long as dreaming and hoping it is coupled with the action to make peace and harmony a reality.

HEATHER

I agree.

(Heather exits and Joe follows, letting the

door close.)

(END OF PLAY)