SCENE: In the woods. A small clearing, off a parking lot–hardly more than a triangle where two parallel felled logs act as benches.
MARY JANE, early 70’s, sits on a log. As at the dog run, using a launcher, SHE plays fetch with the dogs.
CHRISTIE, late 50’s (male), is walking fast to catch up with JUNO, one of his two Jack Russell terriers (the other is Jasper) who has gotten out of her harness. Both JASPER and JUNO drag their leashes on the wet earth.
Both MARY JANE and CHRISTIE wear gloves—CHRISTIE’s are surgical gloves. CHRISTIE is also wearing a mask. MARY JANE leaves hers down—she only pulls it up when a stranger appears.
Beginning of May, still chilly and wet.
CHRISTIE: (About Juno.) Come on Jasper, help me get her.
MARY JANE: Did she go off?
CHRISTIE: Come on, Juno. I’ve got to go get her.
MARY JANE: Can you see her?
CHRISTIE: Excuse, me I’ll be right back.
MARY JANE: I know someone who’s going to “prison.”
CHRISTIE: Jasper, help me get her.
(Jasper runs with CHRISTIE to find Juno.)
MARY JANE: Lantern’s been a bad dog himself, running off.
CHRISTIE: (Off.) Not too far. Come on back, Juno. Come on. Come back.
(There is a clamor in the background. Muted car horns and yells—shaking, pounding, rattling of kitchen utensils.)
CHRISTIE: That’s it, that’s a good girl. Thank you for listening. That’s it.
MARY JANE: Lantern must be doing the loop.
CHRISTIE: Let’s all go see Mary Jane. Jasper, you come too. (To MARY JANE.) Have they been sending people to the hospital ship?
MARY JANE: No, it was sent back—the ship wasn’t even half filled. They were sending patients back to the nursing homes to infect others.
CHRISTIE: (CHRISTIE makes a whooping sound for the hospital workers. About the clamor.) I think today’s Nurse Day.
MARY JANE: Nurse week. Hello, Juno.
CHRISTIE: (CHRISTIE gives another whoop, taking Juno to a tree branch.) A sign was posted in our building about it. I have to watch Juno because she can break out of her harness.
MARY JANE: Here she is. Straight to “jail.”
CHRISTIE: She was just like Dorothy, toodling down the yellow brick road.
(Christie takes Juno to a tree branch of a fallen tree and loops the leash handle over it.)
MARY JANE: There’s one nurse, who walks her dog here in the woods. She helped me, after I got out of the hospital seven years ago. I had a sore on my back–I couldn’t reach it. She came to my apartment and changed the bandage every other day, so I wouldn’t have to go to a clinic. She’s helping Covid patients now.
MARY JANE: He’s been gone longer than fifteen minutes. I don’t like it when he takes so long.
CHRISTIE: (Calling.) Lantern! (To Jasper.) Come on Jasper, stop bringing the ball to Mary Jane. Bring it over here to me.
MARY JANE: I don’t mind.
CHRISTIE: You might be tired of throwing it to him.
MARY JANE: What else would I be doing, since Juno’s been put in the “penitentiary”–and I don’t see Lantern?
CHRISTIE: (About Juno.) Juno was howling at something today.
MARY JANE: Probably critters.
CHRISTIE: Junie, don’t pull on that harness too hard—she broke out of it on the way down here.
MARY JANE: (Calling.) Lantern! His medication must be starting to work.
CHRISTIE: (Calling.) Lantern!
MARY JANE: This breed is supposed to live to fourteen years. That’s why I bought him, because I knew he would be my last dog–but I don’t know if he’s going to make it much longer. He’s eleven and a half.
CHRISTIE: He gets his shots every two and a half weeks.
MARY JANE: His arthritis is giving him a lot of pain.
(CHRISTIE is playing fetch with Jasper.)
CHRISTIE: (Recalling a previous conversation.) Wouldn’t the nurses be taxed anyway?
MARY JANE: Yes, in their own states, but this is in New York—we’re the ones who asked them to come help us. (Pause.) They should have protected the elderly first, but they didn’t know. A 40-year-old can get over the symptoms in a few days.
CHRISTIE: (Going to Junie, to look at her harness.) We’re going to have to get Junie a new harness—she can slip out of it, too.
MARY JANE: At my age if you wake up without something hurting you, you’re dead!
(CHRISTIE begins laughing.)
CHRISTIE: Did you hear about the llama?
MARY JANE: What was that about? I saw something. In Belgium?
CHRISTIE: It’s this llama, in Belgium. Named Winter. In Ghent, Belgium. She produces antibodies—two kinds of antibodies.
MARY JANE: I just saw the picture on the Web. Dark brown.
CHRISTIE: Humans only have one antibody. So this other one can stick to the virus.
MARY JANE: I wondered why they were talking about a llama.
CHRISTIE: This antibody gets into the spikes–you seen those pictures of the coronavirus? Those spikes? And makes them . . . I guess it can wad up in there.
MARY JANE: At least they’re trying.
CHRISTIE: Makes it less effective.
MARY JANE: I looked up that show. It was first made as a movie in 1943, with Roddy McDowall.
CHRISTIE: My Friend Flicka.
MARY JANE: It only lasted a season in the late Fifties.
CHRISTIE: I knew there had to be a serious horse show.
MARY JANE: 1957.
CHRISTIE: Mr. Ed was more popular—it was comic.
MARY JANE: (Imitating Mr. Ed.) “Will-burr.”
CHRISTIE: (Suddenly.) You watch it, Jasper. I saw you try to eat that poop—you’ll be next (to go to jail). You stop that, you hear me?
MARY JANE: The Post said that the number of deaths at Hebrew Home have been under-reported.
MARY JANE: A friend sent it to me yesterday. 192 deaths.
CHRISTIE: (Stunned.) I worked right there,
MARY JANE: The highest in the state.
CHRISTIE: Next to it. Until March.
MARY JANE: I know.
CHRISTIE: I didn’t hear about this.
MARY JANE: They were piling the corpses in the old retreat center.
CHRISTIE: We know someone who works there.
MARY JANE: Yes, from the dog run. Her mother also lives there. Ruff-Ruff’s owner.
CHRISTIE: One of my students worked as a waiter there.
MARY JANE: There are infections among the staff. The paper said that.
CHRISTIE: I think people from my church (also work there).
MARY JANE: I always used to, I was trying to pray. I went to Catholic School with French nuns. I looked up to them. But I stopped. Something always seemed to be happening, so I didn’t pray anymore and never started again—and now things are so chaotic—and I can’t pray now.
MARY JANE: I’m afraid for people going into hospitals. You go in and you might never come out. Families can’t go to visit. People are dying and they’re alone.
CHRISTIE: (Juno breaks out of her harness.) She broke out of her harness. She can snap the holder on the harness. Juno you come back here. I don’t want her running away.
MARY JANE: Juno, you come back.
CHRISTIE: (Suddenly.) Don’t you run, Juno. Junie, you come back here. I don’t want her going down to the swamp.
(CHRISTIE runs after JUNO.)
MARY JANE: You’re not going anywhere—you come back with us.
CHRISTIE: Jasper, you stay here with me.
(Juno is running off.Silence.)
CHRISTIE: Come back, Junie.
MARY JANE: She’s had enough of being tied up . . .
CHRISTIE: Come on back. Don’t go anywhere.
MARY JANE: She’s tired . . . of everything . . .
CHRISTIE: This leash comes off. This leash comes off. It slipped over her head.
MARY JANE: . . . and the pandemic. She sees what it’s doing.
(JUNO begins howling.)
CHRISTIE: Stay right there. That’s a good girl. I’ll come get you.
MARY JANE: I’m glad an animal is helping us solve this.
(The howling gets louder.)
(End of Scene)
Copyright (c) 2020 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved. Photos: Winter, the llama, Straits Times; Jasper and Juno in “jail.”
SCENE: In the woods. A small clearing, off a parking lot–hardly more than a triangle where two parallel felled logs act as benches.
MARY JANE, early 70’s, sits on a log. As at the dog run, using a launcher, SHE plays fetch with the dogs, primarily with her spaniel, LANTERN (who is missing at the beginning of this scene). CHRISTIE, late 50’s (male), stands, holding the leashes of his two Jack Russell terriers, JASPER and JUNO. He is wearing a mask, which itches, so he pulls it up and down on his face. Chilly April. Both MARY JANE and CHRISTIE wear gloves—CHRISTIE’s are surgical gloves. MARY JANE does not wear a mask.
MARY JANE: I’m usually on this bench or the next one over, and there’s another, after that, that I can still get to.
CHRISTIE: (Joking, after a long walk with his dogs.) Very . . . sylvan. I just wish it didn’t take a helicopter to get here.
MARY JANE: Lantern is reverting to his two-year-old self. He disappears—and then I don’t see him again for half an hour. It’s very frustrating. He’s started ranging.
CHRISTIE: I wondered where he went.
MARY JANE: After a while, he’ll come check to see if I’m still here and then go off again—usually dragging back some disgusting thing from the swamp. (Pointing.) It’s right down there.
CHRISTIE: Natan says the run should be open again in a few weeks.
MARY JANE: It will be longer than a few weeks. More like two months, if they open it again at all.
CHRISTIE: Dogs can go without leashes at the park until 9:00 in the morning—I think the same thing happens at night.
MARY JANE: That doesn’t do me any good.
MARY JANE: (Zipping up her coat, because she is cold.) Doesn’t anyone know it’s April 22? Maybe the people upstairs still think we’re in the middle of March, too.
(CHRISTIE drops his leashes and begins throwing a ball to Jasper. He continues to hold JUNO’s leash, and she sits by him.)
CHRISTIE: Jasper. Don’t you go too far away. I don’t want you going to the swamp.
MARY JANE: They can still ticket you here, if a dog isn’t on a leash—but what are they gonna tell me? I can’t have one?
CHRISTIE: (Muttering.) My wife will kill me.
MARY JANE: If these dogs were left to go wild, we’d be seeing some serious food.
CHRISTIE: (Joking.) Squirrel. Rabbit.
MARY JANE: Chipmunks.
CHRISTIE: (Surveying.) I wondered where you took Lantern (during the last week).
MARY JANE: I used to walk here all the time when I was younger. The only problem is it gets really dark at 7:30—all of a sudden it’s pitch black.
CHRISTIE: Come on back, Jasper. Don’t you go over there.
(Jasper trots back to CHRISTIE.)
MARY JANE: I’m going to have to get Lantern an e-collar to shock him, when he goes too far, like when he was little. I’ve been putting off ordering it. (Pause, noticing one of the dogs.) Hello, Juno.
CHRISTIE: Welcome to the Bronx. Epicenter of the coronavirus in the city.
MARY JANE: And the state–and the country.
MARY JANE: Are they going to give you your job?
CHRISTIE: Six are enrolled and they need eight to run the course. Not having enough students in the winter was a blessing in disguise because I would have been taking five mass transit buses a day, back and forth to White Plains.
MARY JANE: (Meaning the virus.) You would have gotten it.
CHRISTIE: We’re lucky we don’t live farther south now. (About Jasper.) He still wants to put the ball between my feet.
MARY JANE: I was watching Dark Victory, with Bette Davis last night.
CHRISTIE: I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen it. This mask is really itchy.
MARY JANE: That’s the way I want to go. Three months. Won’t be painful. She lies down on the bed–and dies. Nice and neat.
CHRISTIE: I should really see that.
MARY JANE: (Mary JANE is interested in the Spanish flu) With the Spanish flu, they turned blue. Lungs filled with fluid. Wilson didn’t do anything. He wasn’t expected to. The only thing good about it was that you went fast. Twenty-hour hours. But then people stopped researching it when it was over. Let me see what time it is. (MARY JANE checks her phone.) 7:08.
MARY JANE: People don’t understand how much stress there is. I was cooking dinner and when I was cleaning up I accidentally turned on the gas on the stove. My next-door neighbor came over to see if I smelled anything. I had fallen asleep. I’ve never done that in my life. Then I did it again the next night. I’d been out with Lantern. Now the Super is at my door. He thought I was trying to commit suicide.
(Suddenly, Lantern rushes in carrying something in his mouth and drops it near MARY JANE. Overlapping: )
MARY JANE: Oh, my God. CHRISTIE: Jesus
MARY JANE: What does he have? CHRISTIE: That is so gross.
MARY JANE: It’s a bat. CHRISTIE: It’s a banana.
MARY JANE : Bird’s wing. CHRISTIE: Piece of rotting meat.
MARY JANE: It’s a scalp! (Upset.) Get it away. Get it away from me. Christie, take it away. Get it out.
(End of Scene)
Copyright (c) 2020 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved.
NARRATOR: As Mary Jane suspected, the dog park was closed, on 4/6/2020, along with all runs throughout the city. Fearing Coronavirus infection, and a fine of one thousand dollars, if caught keeping a social distance of less than six feet from one another, people, out of home isolation, seemed to act silently and in slow motion. The public pathways, where Juno and Jasper were taken, were often uncrowded, especially in the April mists and rains, although this could change when there was sun. Lantern was glimpsed, one morning, looking out a back window, rolled down, as Mary Jane’s car drove by the elementary school and slippery fallen magnolia blossoms, heading south. In the afternoons, Christie walked his dogs by the Hudson, and he recalled a little-known, sometime playwright of the archaic, who had composed, years before, a one-act on themes similar to those voiced now, during the pandemic.
Based on and adapted from Shakespeare and Boccaccio, a companion piece to As You Like It
DUKE SENIOR: His royal’s possessions included land in the Ardennes, where, after being exiled, he now lives in dense woods. (50’s)
JAQUES: A melancholy lord and follower of Duke Senior. (40’s)
FORESTER I: A lord and follower of Duke Senior. (30’s)
FORESTER II: Another of Duke Senior’s men. (40’s)
TOUCHSTONE: A court fool of Duke Frederick, brother of Duke Senior. The clown followed Rosalind and Celia to the Forest of Arden after banishment, although he knows little of country ways. (20’s)
AUDREY: An unsophisticated country wench. (20’s)
MARTEXT: A country vicar. (50’s)
The forest setting includes rough-hewn benches and a table—a stone ring to make a fire.
Suggestion for introductory music: Huun Huur Tu “Sixty Horses in My Herd.”
SETTING: In the forest.
PLACE: Duke Senior’s encampment.
TIME: The plague years.
AT RISE: DUKE SENIOR and MEN are putting out a fire, preparing to hunt deer. JAQUES enters with excitement.
(Entering.) A fool, a fool! I met a fool I’ the forest.
(About Jaques.) Must herbs need.
A motley fool; a miserable—
Will only make him more melancholy.
Drawing a dial from his poke. And, looking on it with lack-lustre eye—
Perhaps saffron and . . . eye of newt.
It’s ten o’clock says the fool very wisely; Thus we may see, ‘quoth he, ‘how the world wags; ‘tis but an hour ago since it was nine—
Next to venison?
On its path.
Come shall be retrieved.
And after one hour more ’twill be eleven, he says . . .
Perhaps shall we see your clown.
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot.
(JAQUES laughs. Silence. A note of sadness—the joke is not as funny as Jaques intended.)
Dost think that jocund?
More there was.
Doth not of patched amusement seem.
If ladies be but young and fair, They have the gift to know it.
And hereby hangs a tale.
(Ignoring.) Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile . . .
I am ambitious for a motley coat.
Then you shall have it.
I thought thou wouldst delight.
(Returning to his speech.) Old custom hast made this life sweeter than painted pomp.
(Thinking of the clown.) Oh, worthy fool.
Are not these woods more free from peril than the envious court?
As I do live by food.
Like Robin of old England, who ’tis said we live like . . .
Motley’s the only wear.
From the rich he steals–givest to the poor.
Grant me leave To speak my mind, and I will through and through Cleanse the foul body of the’infected world.
(Noticing that JAQUES has not been paying attention.) I can tell what thou wouldst do.
If they will patiently receive my medicine.
Fie on thee!
To expose the hypocrisy of the world.
Most mischievous foul sin, in chiding sin.
Why, who cries out on pride?
If you cans’t earn your keep and help our endeavor instead of souring.
That can therein tax any private party?
There are spies from the court!
He is but a coxcomb, my lord.
Something more than that.
A merry man of the woods.
Thinkest he hast no objective?
To give mirth.
For thyself has been a libertine. As sensual as the brutish sting itself; And all th’embossed sores and headed evils.
(About himself.) Hast been a traveler.
(About Touchstone.) When you have robbed him, pillaged for our company, shall you find him and strip his clothes as demonstration!
Come, shall we go shoot us venison?
Yes, my Lord.
(Waving negative thoughts away, as he exits.) It irks me the poor dapple fools being native burghers of this desert city should in their own confine with forked head Have their round haunches gored.
(DUKE and HUNTERS exit.)
(Thinking of the deer that has been felled earlier.) Poor deer, thou makest a testament as worldlings do, giving thy sum of more to that which had too much.
(ROSALIND enters as a man, as if from a dream.)
They say you are a melancholy fellow.
I am so. I do love it better than laughing.
Those that are in extremity of either are abominable fellows, and betray themselves to every modern censure worse than drunkard.
Why, ‘tis good to be sad and say nothing.
Why then, ‘is good to be a post.
‘Tis a melancholy of mine own, composed of many simples, extracted from many objects, and, indeed, the sundry contemplations of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.
Have you perpended tranquil canals in soft-hued Venice?
The stately Nile on her course from south to north?
Woulds’t swim through the threadlike Hellespont?
Did’st not see the years wane, or calculate the height of waves. Yet plagues I’ve seen . . . a pestilence so powerful that it attacked robust and vigorous strength–the way dry or oil close to fire will catch aflame. Was’t living among the dead but dids’t not recognize it . . . Just from the touching the clothes of those of the sick or anything felt or used by them.
(To herself.) Must pray harder think I often, if knowest how to.
Fear filled us so complete that no one cared about the other. Dost thou know what it’s like to in terror quake?—no, thou are still too young. Brother abandoning brother, uncle abandoning nephew, sister left brother and very often wife abandoning husband, and—even worse, almost unbelievable—father and mother neglecting to tend and care for their children, as if they were not their own.
You have great reason to be sad.
Yes, I have gain’d my experience, boy.
I fear you have sold your own lands to see other men’s; then to have seen much and to have nothing is to have rich eyes and poor hands.
I have neither the scholar’s melancholy, which is emulation; nor the musician’s, which is fantastical; nor the courtier’s, which is proud; nor the soldier’s, which is ambitious; nor the lawyer’s which is politic; nor the lad’s which is nice; nor the lover’s, which is all these.
(ROSALIND has exited; TOUCHSTONE enters.)
Come apace, good Audrey; I will fetch up our goats, Audrey. And how, Audrey, am I the man yet? Doth my simple feature content you?
Shh, shh. The jig-maker. It is him. (Jaques believes that Rosalind is still nearby.)
Your features! Lord warrant us! What features!
I am here with thee and thy goats, as the most capricious poet, honest Ovid, was among the Goths.
(Aside.) O knowledge ill-inhabited, worse than Jove in a thatched house!
When a man’s verses cannot be understood, nor a man’s good wit seconded with the forward child Understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room. Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical.
I do not know what ‘poetical’ is: is it honest in deed and word? Is it a true thing?
No, truly; for the truest poetry is the most feigning; and lovers are given to poetry, and what they swear in poetry may be said as lovers they do feign.
Do you wish then that the gods had made me poetical?
I do, truly; for thou swearest to me thou art honest: now, if thou wert a poet, I might have some hope thou didst feign.
Would you not have me honest?
No, truly, unless thou wert hard-favoured; for honesty coupled to beauty is to have honey a sauce to sugar.
(Aside.) A material fool!
Well, I am not fair; and therefore I pray the gods make me honest.
Truly, and to cast away honesty upon a foul slut were to put good meat into an unclean dish.
I am not a slut, though I thank the gods I am foul.
Well, praised be the gods for thy foulness! Sluttishness may come hereafter. But be it as it may be, I will marry thee, and to that end I have been with Sir Oliver Martext, the vicar of the next village, who hath promised to meet me in this place of the forest and to couple us.
(Aside.) I would fain see this meeting.
Well, the gods give us joy!
Amen. A man may, if he were of a fearful heart, stagger in this attempt; for here we have no temple but the wood, no assembly but horn-beasts.
(Aside.) I must have liberty withal, as large a charter as the wind, To blow on whom I please, for so fools have.
But what though? Courage!
They that are most galled with my folly. They most must laugh.
As horns are odious, they are necessary. It is said, ‘many a man knows no end of his goods:’ right; many a man has good horns, and knows no end of them.
He that a fool doth very wisely hit Doth very foolishly, although he smart,
Not to seem senseless of the bob.
Well, that is the dowry of his wife; ’tis none of his own getting. Horns? Even so.
If not, The wise man’s folly is anatomized
Poor men alone?
Even by the squand’ring glances of the fool. Invest me in my motley.
No, no; the noblest deer hath them as huge as the rascal. Is the single man therefore blessed?
By how much defence is better than no skill, by so much is a horn more precious than to want.
No: as a walled town is more worthier than a village, so is the forehead of a married man more honourable than the bare brow of a bachelor; Here comes Sir Oliver.
Doth pride not flow as hugely as the sea Till that the wearer’s very means do ebb?
(SIR OLIVER MARTEXTenters.)
Sir Oliver Martext, you are well met:
(Aside.)What woman in the city do I name When that I say the city-woman bears
The cost of princes on unworthy shoulders? Who can come in and say that I mean her. . . .
(To Martext.) Will you dispatch us here under this tree, or shall we go with you to
When such a one as she such is her neighbor? Or what is he of basest function That savest his bravery is not on my cost, Thinking that I mean him—But therein suits his folly to the mettle of my speech?
SIR OLIVER MARTEXT:
Is there none here to give the woman?
Then he hath wron’d himself; if he will be free.
SIR OLIVER MARTEXT:
There then! How then? What then? Let me see where in
My tongues hath wrong’d him: if it do him right
I will not take her on gift of any man.
SIR OLIVER MARTEXT:
Truly, she must be given, or the marriage is not lawful.
(Advancing.) Proceed, proceed I’ll give her.
Good even, good Master What-ye-call’t: how do you, sir? You are very well met: God ‘ild you for your last company: I am very glad to see you: even a toy in hand here, sir: nay, pray be covered.
Will you be married, motley?
As the ox hath his bow, sir, the horse his curb and the falcon her bells, so man hath his desires; and as pigeons bill, so wedlock would be nibbling.
And will you, being a man of your breeding, be married under a bush like a beggar? Methinks you’re more than that.
(Aside, but AUDREY overhears.) I am not in the mind but I were better to be married of him than of another: for he is not like to marry me well; and not being well married, it will be a good excuse for me hereafter to leave my wife.
Dost not intend to stay?
Now am I in Arden; the more fool I; when I was at home I was in a better place.
This fellow will but join you together as they join wainscot; then one of you will prove a shrunk panel and, like green timber, warp, warp.
By my troth, we that have good wits have much to answer for.
Go thou with me, and let me counsel thee.
‘Come, sweet Audrey: We must be married, or we must live in bawdry. Farewell, good Master Oliver: not,– O sweet Oliver, O brave Oliver, Leave me not behind thee: but,– Wind away, Begone, I say, I will not to wedding with thee.
SIR OLIVER MARTEXT:
‘Tis no matter: ne’er a fantastical knave of them all shall flout me out of my calling.
Brazen enough to wear motley among bumpkins?
My weeds, sir.
Think they wouldst not suspect thine purpose?
To be married.
Wilt see the duke again?
Doth thou know him?
What wilt thou tell him of a rustic’s life?
If thou never wast at court thou never saw’st good manners; if thou never saw’st good manners, than thy manners must be wicked; and wickedness is sin, and sin is damnation. Thou art in a parlous state.
Why wouldst examine?
It is a good life, in respect of itself; but in respect that it is a shepard’s life, it is nought. In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in respect that it is private, it is a very vile life.
Must be companion to others from the court.
Come Audrey, let us make an honorable retreat.
(But AUDREY is gone.)
Are you not solitary?
Single, to this day.
A base, countryman and wife.
Am here to wed.
Courtiers in disguise.
Wouldst not presume–
Methinks you know something more.
Know thou the look of informants?
I’m looking for naught.
What does the Duke want?
I know not.
He wants his duchy peaceable.
You know then.
What else could he want?
I know not more, I tell thee.
Hast betrayed thyself.
(Jaques attacks Touchstone, tearing off his clothes.)
Live to be watched, not live to be free. Canst not tell woman from man?
Thinkest so, Lord.
Think we’re daft?
Players is all.
Conceit in lusting spring.
Shalt show thine major-domo?
Nothing is wrongly done.
Give me thine garb.
We’re travellers. Travelers– young.
Then thou shalt know the cost.
(Touchstone has been stripped naked, exhausted.)
(JAQUES flees with the clown’s clothes.)
(END OF SCENE)
(“Travelers”: (c) Copyright 2016 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved. This free adaptation of As You Like It includes material from Shakespeare and Boccaccio’s Decameron.
(c) 2016, 2020 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved.
SCENE: A dog park in the Bronx. There are two benches. The first is near the entrance to the run—the second is toward the opposite end.
MARY JANE, early 70’s, sits on one side of the bench closest to the entrance of the dog run. Using a launcher, SHE plays fetch with her spaniel, LANTERN. CHRISTIE, late 50’s (male), is standing in the run reprimanding one of his two Jack Russell terriers, JASPER. The other dog, JUNO is digging a hole, near MARY JANE, which Lantern has started. There is a large container of water near the front of the run. A sunny day. April.
MARY JANE wears a glove on the hand she throws her ball with; CHRISTIE wears surgical gloves and a thicker glove on his right hand.
CHRISTIE: (To Jasper, seeing he has taken the green ball from Lantern.) You’re a little thief!
MARY JANE:: When Lantern was younger, he would do that.
CHRISTIE: Stealing the ball right from under Lantern’s nose.
MARY JANE: He used to do it if he found a ball he liked better than his.
CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) I thought you wanted your orange ball.
MARY JANE: They’re playing a little game (with the green ball).
CHRISTIE: Come on—get your own. It’s right over here. (The dogs have no interest.)
MARY JANE: Look at how nicely Junie is enjoying the sun. (And Junie is sunning herself.)
CHRISTIE: Let Lantern have his own ball, for a change.
(Silence. MARY JANE and CHRISTIE begin throwing the green ball for Lantern and Jasper to fetch. )
MARY JANE: Lantern almost got out of the back run yesterday. He was headed toward the field–Natan had to get him back in.
(MARY JANE and CHRISTIE sit on different benches, looking over the park.)
MARY JANE: The white cars are Enforcement. They’re the ones who disperse crowds. The green trucks are park maintenance.
CHRISTIE: The tennis nets are gone. I saw that this morning.
MARY JANE: Did they take the hoops down in the basketball courts? Just look. Are the hoops still in the baskets?
CHRISTIE: (He looks through the fence across the street.) Yes.
MARY JANE: They’re closing parks in New York City because people aren’t social distancing. One woman was having a children’s birthday party with twelve guests.
CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) Get the orange ball.
MARY JANE: Washington State, they listened. California has been doing a very good job. But in New York they won’t.
CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) You’re a little thief.
MARY JANE: I don’t want them to put locks on the run. I don’t have anyone else who can walk him now–Gina has an underlying condition.
CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) Leave Lantern alone.
MARY JANE: (About underlying conditions.) I’ve learned that I have three: heart, diabetes, high blood pressure—and now they consider obesity one.
CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) Stop barking at Lantern.
MARY JANE: I left the gate ajar this morning so no one will have to touch it.
(Jasper barks at Lantern. Subsides.)
CHRISTIE: There’s a story about an epidemic. “Pale Horse, Pale Rider.” Takes place in Colorado, during the early 1900s. I read it in college. Always remembered it. Really good.
MARY JANE: (Seeing Lantern at the keg of water.) Lantern, stop acting so crazy.
CHRISTIE: What’s going on over there?
MARY JANE: He’s been acting this way all morning.
CHRISTIE: He’s knocking over the water.
MARY JANE: (To Lantern.) Enough.
CHRISTIE: (Christie picks up the water jug and pours water into the tin bowl.) I’m sorry, Lantern. I’ll get you water. I thought you had it.
(Lantern drinks, followed by Jasper.)
MARY JANE: Did you hear from your school?
CHRISTIE: I heard from them about two weeks ago. The course seems to be going online. I still seem to have it.
MARY JANE: I don’t know whether it’s true, but in Wuhan–I heard it in two places–they’ve found people with the virus locked in their rooms, from the outside.
CHRISTIE: So no one can get out.
CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) Why do you keep bringing me the green ball? What’s wrong with the orange one?
MARY JANE: Emergency services will leave you if they can’t find a pulse. They won’t make any attempts to revive you. They used to try to resuscitate you and take you to the hospital.
CHRISTIE: I didn’t hear that.
MARY JANE: Now, if you’re dead, you’re dead.
CHRISTIE: What’s the matter Lantern?
MARY JANE: (About Lantern.) Sometimes I think he doesn’t get enough oxygen to his brain.
CHRISTIE: (To Lantern.) That was so nice that you dug that hole for Junie to lie in.
MARY JANE: (Lantern is lying in front of the gate.) He wants to go. Look at him. He wants to leave.
CHRISTIE: Lantern’s trying to get out—he wants to get out of the gate.
MARY JANE: You come back here.
CHRISTIE: Juno. Jasper. You stay here.
(CHRISTIE closes the gate.)
MARY JANE: (About Lantern.) He’s out of the fence.
CHRISTIE: Lantern, come back here!
MARY JANE: I’m afraid he’ll run into the street and get hit by a car.
CHRISTIE: Lantern, get back.
MARY JANE: Help me get him.
CHRISTIE: He’s running.
MARY JANE: They’ll lock the fence at the run.
CHRISTIE: Do you see him? Look at him go. Out on the field. He has the orange ball. He’s running.
MARY JANE: Lantern, come here!
CHRISTIE: He’s turned around. He’s on his way back! You were beautiful, Lantern.
SCENE: A dog park in the Bronx. Today, it is warmer—and there is sun.
(MARY JANE, early 70’s, sits on a bench in the dog park. Using a launcher, SHE plays fetch with her spaniel, LANTERN. Today, CHRISTIE (male), late 50’s, is standing at the beginning of the scene, but because of social distancing, he will be sitting on a second bench in this part of the run. JUNO and JASPER are CHRISTIE’s two Jack Russell terriers.)
(LANTERN is digging a hole to lie in; JUNO and JASPER are at the far end of the run.)
MARY JANE: What are these dogs eating? Mud?
CHRISTIE: Jasper you come over here!
MARY JANE: What are they eating? Lantern was eating mud yesterday.
CHRISTIE: You come over here, Jasper. You, too, Junie.
MARY JANE: I don’t mind if he eats a little mud.
CHRISTIE: (Suspecting Jasper is going to eat poop.) Jasper, you get away from there.
MARY JANE: If he’s eating a lot of it, I care. Is it poop?
CHRISTIE: I don’t know what it is.
MARY JANE: (Standing.) I’ve heard about a powder for dogs who eat their own poop—makes it taste bad and they stop. But that wouldn’t help your dogs, because they eat other dogs’ poop.
CHRISTIE: Probably mud. (CHRISTIE kicks the ground where Jasper has been.)
MARY JANE: (About a small piece of dog poop on the ground.) See, that’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t normally pick up.
(CHRISTIE picks it up anyway.)
MARY JANE: Uh-oh. Lantern’s going. (Lantern is pooping.)
CHRISTIE: (Moving straight into action.) JASPER!
MARY JANE: Do you have a bag?
CHRISTIE: I have a bag. (Chasing Jasper.) No!
MARY JANE: Come on, Jasper, you come up here by me.
CHRISTIE: (Yelling at Jasper, running after him, trying to get him away from the poop.) Drop it! You drop that! You drop that! You drop that, Jasper! Drop that.
(Pause. JASPER does not listen.)
MARY JANE: Did he get it?
CHRISTIE: I don’t think so. Junie, you get up there, too.
(Silence. CHRISTIE cleans up LANTERN’s poop. JUNO sits by Mary Jane.)
MARY JANE: Thank you for picking it up.
CHRISTIE: No problem.
MARY JANE: I don’t think he’ll go again, but you never know–he’s been going a lot lately.
CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) No eating. You know full well you’re not supposed to be eating that! The last thing I need is a sick little dog.
(LANTERNsettles down with his ball and begins “woofing” seven or eight times.)
MARY JANE: (About the barking.) Lantern. Stop being so loud!
(MARY JANE coughs and uses her launcher to play fetch.)
MARY JANE: I’ve been coughing for four weeks. (since) March 1. I take my temperature every day—I’ve never had one. Cuomo says this is going to peak in 21 days—he changed it from 45.
CHRISTIE: Prince Charles has Caronavirus. (CHRISTIE is throwing balls to the dogs, as well.)
MARY JANE: He does? That must have just happened. I listen to the news when I’m getting ready in the morning.
CHRISTIE: Junie, don’t you go down there. I don’t want you eating mud.
MARY JANE: A lot of people around here say they’ve already had Coronavirus. Coughing, headaches, sniffling, diarrhea, they’ve been doing that all winter. They have chapped hands from washing so much. They need to put hand cream in the bathroom, and use it. If not, they’ll forget.
MARY JANE: This cold I have–I think it saved my life. My friend Jerome tested positive—after waiting two weeks to receive the results. He texted me he’s getting better, but he’s still in quarantine. If I didn’t have this (cold) Jerome and I would have been going out a few times a week. He has money, doesn’t mind paying. Getting lunch at Smashburger, riding up to Dobbs Ferry for drinks on the water. I would have gotten it.
MARY JANE: Jasper always puts the ball between feet, like croquet. Lantern learned that from him. Now he does it too. Is it the game called croquet where they aim the ball through a (she curves her arms and hands.
CHRISTIE: (Seeing that JASPER has done this to CHRISTIE’s feet.) Yes. Croquet.
MARY JANE: (To LANTERN.) Now you want the orange ball.
CHRISTIE: I don’t know what this is. Last week everybody wanted the green ball. Now it has to be orange.
MARY JANE: (Lantern’s coloring is orange.) An orange ball for an orange dog.
CHRISTIE: Trends can change at a moment’s notice. Turn on a dime. Everyone was fine with the green bacon ball until 11:17 this morning. Then you couldn’t give it away. They got tired of it. No one will touch it.
MARY JANE: More and more I notice Lantern doesn’t like me leaving him.
CHRISTIE: (Still talking about balls for dogs.) Jasper won’t even pick it up. Look at him. It’s right next to him.
MARY JANE: (About LANTERN.) He gets restless at night, can’t make himself comfortable. Doesn’t want to be petted very long—and only when he’s lying down.
CHRISTIE: Lantern never likes to be petted.
MARY JANE: He has arthritis of the spine. He’s getting old fast. He’ll be my last dog. He’s already eleven.
MARY JANE: Uh-oh.
CHRISTIE: (Yelling at Jasper, running after him, trying to get him away from the poop.) Drop it! You drop that! You drop that! You drop that!
MARY JANE: Do you have a bag?
CHRISTIE: (Running to pick up poop.) How long do you say you’ve been doing this?
MARY JANE: I’ve had dogs since I was sixteen. That’s when my father felt he could trust me to take care of one–when I wouldn’t mind cleaning up after them and taking them outside. But I wanted one longer than that—I have the dog gene.
(MARY JANE, early 70’s, sits on a bench in the dog run. Using a launcher, SHE plays fetch with her spaniel, Lantern—although CHRISTIE (male), late 50’s, is throwing most of the balls today (to LANTERN and one of CHRISTIE’S two Jack Russell terriers, JASPER. The other, JUNO, sits on the ground near MARY JANE. )
CHRISTIE: Come on, Lantern, come back. Don’t go down so far.
MARY JANE: Lantern, come back.
CHRISTIE: Jasper got it.
MARY JANE: He knows not to go very far when I’m throwing the ball!
CHRISTIE: (To Lantern.) I’m trying to get it to you.
MARY JANE: I used to think he was smart.
CHRISTIE: I can’t throw it that far.
MARY JANE: Lantern, Christie’s wearing two pairs of gloves and has the ball in a plastic bag!
CHRISTIE: He missed it.
CHRISTIE: Lantern, come back this way.
MARY JANE: A hospital ship is being sent to the East Coast.
CHRISTIE: (Explaining to Lantern.) Jasper will intercept it if you go too far downfield.
MARY JANE: Another one is going to the West Coast.
CHRISTIE: I don’t have the arm for that.
MARY JANE: The problem is they only have 5,000 ventilators in New York.
CHRISTIE: How many do they need?
MARY JANE: 30,000.
MARY JANE: Do they give one to the 40-year-old—or do I get it, with underlying conditions?
CHRISTIE: (To Lantern.) Stay up here.
MARY JANE: It used to be a disease would wipe out segments of the population—but we’re not used to that. We got too smart in eradicating disease.
CHRISTIE: (To Lantern.) Forget it, Lantern—I’m not a professional quarterback!
MARY JANE: They were looking at the people who died in Italy. The largest group had cases in the elderly population with three or four underlying conditions. The second group had two–
CHRISTIE: It’s like fires out West.
MARY JANE: Exactly.
(The dogs suddenly begin to bark at children outside the fence.)
CHRISTIE: (To the dogs.) That’s enough, that’s enough. (About the dogs, to the children.)
MARY JANE: Lantern, stop barking.
CHRISTIE: (To the children and nanny.) They’re just saying good morning.
MARY JANE: All the children are off from school.
CHRISTIE: (To the children, about the dogs.) They’re just saying hello. You don’t have to be scared of them. They’re just big talkers.
(The nanny and children move on and the dogs stop barking.Silence.)
MARY JANE: How is your son?
CHRISTIE: Still in Edinburgh. Going on lockdown. He doesn’t want to come home. Says it’s as bad over here as it is there.
MARY JANE: You know in Venice, without all the tourists there, the canals are like glass. Crystal clear. Blue. You can see all the way to the bottom.
CHRISTIE: Lantern, you got the ball!
(C) Copyright 2020 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved.
SCENE: A dog park in the Bronx. There are two benches. The first is near the entrance to the run—the second it toward the opposite end.
MARY JANE, early 70’s, sits on one side of the second bench in the dog run. Using a launcher, SHE plays fetch with her spaniel, LANTERN. CHRISTIE, late 50’s, is sitting on the far side of the bench and throwing a ball to one of his two terriers—the other dog sits near MARY JANE. A sunny day)
CHRISTIE: (Calling, to one of his dogs.) Come on Jasper, stop taking Lantern’s ball.
MARY JANE: What to do? I wait for this all year long–I’m not sure if anything will change by May or June.
CHRISTIE: I saw, on the Web, that the worst should be over by the end of April–not that it might not recur . . .
MARY JANE: I get the same ABT tickets in the parterre–with my friend.
CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) You have your own ball! Leave Lantern’s alone! (CHRISTIE stands.) Come on Jasper, put the ball over here!
MARY JANE: That’s all right. Just leave him. He’ll put it down when he’s ready.
(Jasper finally puts down the ball.)
MARY JANE: I told you. He always puts down the ball if you leave him alone.
CHRISTIE: Natan said we should just nuke New Rochelle—then our problems would be solved.
MARY JANE: And cancel 2020.
CHRISTIE: That will get rid of corona virus.
MARY JANE: The National Guard is taking food and medical supplies to the elderly.
CHRISTIE: How far away is New Rochelle? I’ve never been there.
MARY JANE: Depends on where you’re going. New Rochelle is a big place. Six schools. Two closed. Twenty-five minutes, maybe. That’s where my vet is and where I get my car repaired. We used to go to New Rochelle for the best pizza.
MARY JANE: They closed Fordham. Columbia.
CHRISTIE: Saint Xavier. Courses go online Thursday.
MARY JANE: Was anyone at the school found to be infected?
MARY JANE: What does that mean for you?
CHRISTIE: I can’t tutor because you have to work with the student face to face. (Pause.) They’re going on spring break anyway—it doesn’t matter.
(Pause. We hear the entry gate open and close. A small black and white dog, like on the old RCA records comes up to CHRISTIE—and he lightly begins petting the dog.)
CHRISTIE: (Changing the subject.) At least the weather’s better. That would stop the virus. That’s what happens with the flu. Knock it out. One of the workmen in our building said: “You want some Coronas? I got some.”
(Silence. CHRISTIE stops petting the dog.)
MARY JANE: (Speaking quietly.) You know Natan?
CHRISTIE: (Not hearing.) What?
MARY JANE: You see that man over there?
CHRISTIE: (To one of the terriers.) Come on Jasper—you can let Lantern have his own ball.
MARY JANE: He lives in Natan’s building.
CHRISTIE: Why is he holding a white handkerchief in front of his face?
MARY JANE: Natan often knows things about people.
CHRISTIE: (Throwing a ball.) The New Rochelle line was only a joke, you know that, right? I never know if people take things the wrong way. (Looking over at the man.) Maybe that guy is sick.
MARY JANE: His son is in quarantine.
CHRISTIE: I was just petting his dog–lightly on top.
MARY JANE: Can you get it from animals?
CHRISTIE: I don’t know.
MARY JANE: He seems sick. (The man is blowing his nose.)
CHRISTIE: I don’t want to wait to find out.
(The dog jumps up on the bench.)
CHRISTIE: I think I’m going to go in the other run.
MARY JANE: I’ve never gotten along with him. He takes up too much of a bench.
CHRISTIE: I want to wash my hands.
MARY JANE: I’m going to the doctor in a few minutes.
CHRISTIE: Let’s get out of here.
MARY JANE: (Suddenly.) Lantern! We’re leaving!
(C) Copyright 2020 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved.
(MARY JANE, early 70s, sits on a bench in the dog run. Using a launcher, SHE plays fetch with her spaniel, LANTERN. CHRISTIE, male, late 50s, is standing and throwing a ball to one of his two terriers—the other sits near MARY JANE.)
MARY JANE: I don’t think it can be coronavirus because I don’t have a temperature.
CHRISTIE: Is that one of the symptoms?
MARY JANE: That’s one of the symptoms. I was checking every fifteen minutes, when I was home, and I don’t have a temperature.
CHRISTIE: Plus you’ve had this for a while–
MARY JANE: About three or four days. Four days. And I’ve never had a temperature. So I don’t think it can be coronavirus.
CHRISTIE: (Relieved.) Well, that’s good. (To one of the dogs.) Good catch, Jasper.
MARY JANE: You know Crosby, Stills, and Nash—from the sixties?
MARY JANE: I was going to see Nash.
CHRISTIE: You were?
MARY JANE: But I told my brother I couldn’t go—he didn’t have a problem, he completely understood. If I was on the aisle, that would be one thing, so I could get up, if I had to. But I didn’t want to be in the middle of a row in case I started to cough.
CHRISTIE: My wife thinks she has norovirus
MARY JANE: I wouldn’t want people to think I had coronavirus.
CHRISTIE: Where is S. A. R.?
MARY JANE: Over by the railroad tracks.
CHRISTIE: Yeshiva is closed, too.
MARY JANE: And the academy.
CHRISTIE: The man lives in New Rochelle. It’s affected over a thousand people. They can trace it.
MARY JANE: I don’t think this can be the flu because I don’t have chills.
CHRISTIE: Early in the morning I think I must be getting sick—under my left eye feels all puffy. But I am fine by the time I get up.
MARY JANE: I was reading about the common cold—and this should peak in the next two days.
CHRISTIE: There’s no one else here—not even the schoolkids.
MARY JANE: It’s like we’re the last two people on earth. (To her dog.) Lantern, find your ball!
CHRISTIE: We’ll meet up with another group of survivors from . . . Italy.