By Bob Shuman
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.