(Photo of Jasper)
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.
(c) 2020 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved.