By Bob Shuman
Photo of Juno (Junie)
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.
(c) 2020 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved.