Sunday, April 22, 2018

Monologue Mania Day # 1527 Slide Rules by Janet S. Tiger (c) April 22, 2018

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Monologue Mania Day # 1527 Slide Rules by Janet S. Tiger (c) April 22, 2018   

This one-act is being entered in a contest tonight - by 11:59pm - any suggestions are greatly appreciated!                           
                                                     Slide Rules
                                                         by Janet S. Tiger
                                                © 2012 all rights reserved

SETTING -  an old-time small town newspaper office – one large paper on a wall can read             CACTUS CREEK WEEKLY PEEK first edition, and there are only two signs that this is not 1945, but today -  a modern computer and printer – and a large container marked   RECYCLING.

            MARJ-  Editor of the Cactus Creek Weekly Peek, 50s
            SHERRY – Marj’s longtime assistant and friend, 70s
            BRANDON – Young man, late 20s, suit and tie, excited, but nervous

            Whatever the director prefers – there are no special needs for this play

(Curtain opens to show an old-time small town newspaper office – one large paper on a wall can read CACTUS CREEK WEEKLY PEEK first edition, and there are only two signs that this is not 1945, but today -  a modern computer and printer – and a large container marked RECYCLING.
A key is heard and the front door opens.  In walks a woman in her 50s – the editor, MARJORIE - who looks like she could have been happier in 1945.  She is chewing a big wad of gum, which she will replenish throughout.  She takes a scarf out of a pocket, wipes her forehead – it’s hot already – and goes over to an old fan to turn in on.  It doesn’t work.  She tries jiggling the switch – nothing.  Now she kicks it.  It falls over – and still nothing.

As she is picking up the fan, in comes a woman in her 70s, CHERYL – SHERRY to her friends – and she doesn’t just come in, she makes an entrance, wearing an amazingly large hat – it could be used to create shade in the desert – and waltzing, while humming)

SHERRY – I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night….and still have wished             for more…..

            (As she does this, she puts her hat onto a hat rack, places her purse by the computer, and      sits down as she finishes the waltz.)

SHERRY -  Did you see Dancing with the Stars?  Wasn’t that lovely?  My father used to dance   with me when he….
MARJ- (knows this)  ……came home from work.
SHERRY -  (Doesn’t care)  Maybe I have told this story before…
MARJ – ….once or twice…
SHERRY – (Gonna tell it anyhow- it’s part of the morning the day after Dancing)  And he would lift me up and whirl me around 

            (She illustrates)

SHERRY-  And then, when I got taller….
MARJ - …..he would have you stand on his shoes…
SHERRY – he would have me stand on my shoes!
MARJ -  And a bright and cheery good morning to you…

            (The next lines are said while the two of them get the office ready for the morning- coffee started, blinds opened – whatever the set designer can come up with on their budget.)

SHERRY -  My dear Marjorie, I think you would enjoy watching those beautiful young people             dancing…
MARJ-  Maybe if I had cable…
SHERRY – Or a computer….it’s available on the computer, you know..
MARJ – I may be forced to look at a computer here in the office, but there is still no law forcing            me to do that at home…
SHERRY – What a beautiful day!  It’s so warm and sunny – amazing how you can be so             miserable so early in the morning…
MARJ -  It’s not warm, it’s 7:45 am and it’s already hotter than the hinges of hell!
SHERRY – It’s only 90 degrees –according to the weather report, the hinges of hell won’t be        until about 3pm…..

            (Looking through mail)

MARJ -  I hope we got some good letters, otherwise you’ll have to make up a few…
SHERRY -  Why don’t you let people send in their letters on email?
MARJ-  For the same reason I will never read a book on a piece of metal!  It’s not natural!
SHERRY -  But driving around a two-ton pile of gas burning crap is just fine and dandy?
MARJ-  You know I have a Prius!
SHERRY – Pardon me, one ton.
MARJ -  I don’t see you riding your bike when it’s 100 degrees in the shade!
SHERRY -  Come on, you print the paper on modern machines!
MARJ -  I do not! 
SHERRY -  All right, Danny Yang does at his print shop, but you know what I mean!
MARJ -  Here’s a good one..

            (She holds up a letter)

MARJ- Anna Lee Contreras is complaining that the tire recycling place may be harboring illegal bees….
SHERRY – (Suspicious) Is that really what it says?
MARJ – Well, she’s upset at the tire recycling somehow - what does she have against             recycling?…..
SHERRY – The stink of the tires?  The ugliness of the tires…it’s probably just the..
MARJ – (This is almost like a mantra) …Bees in her bonnet? The…
SHERRY - ….ants in her pants…speaking of recycling, how many of those slide rules do you      have left?    A million? Ten thousand?
MARJ -  You have your father teaching you to dance, I got my father’s slide rules…
SHERRY – He might as well have left you manure…. now that’s an important commodity in the   desert…..
MARJ-  (snide)  Well, there’s plenty of manure in this office…
            (They both laugh)
MARJ -  One day, when our modern society destroys itself, and there is no electricity, people             will appreciate a return to the basics – and they will need slide rules again!
SHERRY -  Of course, dear, when the sun burns out and we can’t use our solar calculators!
            (They are interrupted by a knock on the door.  A nice-looking young man in a suit that is rapidly becoming very sweaty pokes his head in the door.  This is BRANDON, and he is    bright, perky and carrying a briefcase – a man on a mission.)
BRANDON -  (Interview ready)  Hello, my name is Brandon Williams….
MARJ-  We’re not really open yet…
SHERRY - (More polite) Did you want to place an ad?  We’re not set up to do that online yet…
BRANDON -  (Polite) It is about the ad,  I’m here for the job you advertised…
            (The two women look at each other)
BRANDON – (Starting to get nervous)  Here, I printed it out….I know I’m a little early…
            (He hands the paper to Marj, who reads quickly, then passes it to Sherry)
SHERRY -  (Reading)  Under Jobs Available -  ‘Have you been out of work for over 6 months?          We are offering something a little out of the ordinary – a chance to help a small town      newspaper grow.  We need someone for advertising sales, willing to work hard.  Good     pay, great benefits…’
            (Both Sherry and Marj laugh at this)
SHERRY -  (Stunned)  ‘Do not reply by email or phone. (Loudly).. Interviews on Wednesday     morning, the   23rd, 8 AM sharp.  ..
BRANDON -  I know it’s  only the 21st…..but when I show up on the right day, there are usually            hundreds of people     waiting…even in places like this, so I figured I’d come early and         you’d see how much I want the job….
MARJ -  (Getting mad)  Who would do this?  Neither one of us can use the Internet that well!
SHERRY – (Examining the paper)  It must be a joke of some kind…
BRANDON -  (Getting upset)  Whaddaya mean a joke? 
MARJ-  I mean, young man, that we never put this ad anywhere….Did we?
            (Sherry looks horrified)
SHERRY-  Don’t look at me!  I stay away from those dating sites…
BRANDON -  It’s not a dating site!  It’s Craig’s List!
SHERRY -  But didn’t somebody get killed on Craig’s List…
            (During this, Brandon is looking less and less confident)
BRANDON -  (Starting to figure it out)  Oh, my God…
            (He sits down on a chair, suddenly looking not so upbeat)
BRANDON -  I’ve heard about things like this – I mean, other people I’ve met in lines told             me….but I didn’t think out here in the…
SHERRY – (Helpful)  Stix?
BRANDON – Desert…. I figured, oh, boy… I figured wrong, I guess …
            (He shakes his head, looking stunned)
BRANDON -  Someone has a grudge against someone…or just wants to play a mean practical          joke….they put in a help wanted ad….no email, no phone…you just have to show up,          like a cattle call….
            (Marj is half-listening, looking at the paper)
MARJ -  If what you say is right, there could be hundreds of other people like you out here on        Wednesday!  What are we gonna do with them?
BRANDON -   Sometimes there’s even riots…
SHERRY -  Look at the bright side, we’ve never had a riot in Cactus Creek – it would be a big       news story….
MARJ – Good thinking, there, Sherry….just what we need to stir up all kinds of trouble right    before the water board meets!
SHERRY – (Doesn’t realize it’s a joke)  Maybe we could call up the national feed TV station             over at Temecula…
MARJ – (Annoyed)  I was joking!  What are we gonna do?  I hate that computer!
SHERRY -  It’s not the computer, it’s what people do with it…
MARJ-  A little like- only guns kill people?
SHERY – Let’s not get into politics, dear..
            (Turns back to Brandon)
SHERRY -  Young man…
BRANDON -  Brandon..
SHERRY -  Brandon…Who can we call?  Is there anything you could do to help us fix this?
BRANDON -  I could try…
            (Sherry indicates that the computer is on and he sits down and starts typing.)
MARJ -  I hope he can fix it…whatever it is that is broken!  Who would have a grudge against            us?
SHERRY -  You mean… who wouldn’t!  There’s Anna Lee who hates what you say about bees     in her bonnet…
MARJ -  How does she know what I say?
SHERRY -  You print it every other week!
MARJ-  She’s just too sensitive….
SHERRY – And what about your dear ex-husband who hates your vociferous views on the water   board…of which he is the head…
MARJ -  But these people have hated me for years!  Why would they do this now?
SHERRY -  Maybe they got new computers?
            (Brandon indicates they should come to the computer.)
BRANDON -  There, I notified Craig’s List that this is a fraudulent posting, it’s been removed,         and emails are being sent to everyone who looked at the site.
SHERRY -  (Impressed) So… it’s all taken care of?
MARJ- - (Impressed, but doesn’t want to show it) And there won’t be a thousand people here on            Wednesday?
BRANDON – (Laughs)  No riots!  Maybe a few people won’t get to read the email, but I’m             pretty sure you’ll be ok.  (Has an idea)  Look, I’m good with a computer….and I’ve             done sales work before…
MARJ-  Not so fast, honey – there is still no job…there never was a job….to be honest, Sherry             over there gets all of $50.00 a month – to cover her gas…
SHERRY – Which it doesn’t cover anymore…
MARJ-  And I get paid the grand total of one dollar a year …
BRANDON – (He doesn’t get it)  I understand…
SHERRY – (To explain) Marjorie’s father owned a slide rule company, which did very well for       many years – and although Marj inherited the unsold thousands of inventory….
MARJ-  …which will be usable one day, I’m sure…
SHERRY – (continues over her)…. the money he earned in the good years bought a great deal of             land around here….including this building…
BRANDON – (now he gets it)  Oh….
MARJ -  The subscriptions just about pay for the printing costs.  We just got the computer…
SHERRY -  That was MY idea!
MARJ – And so you see, there’s no job….
BRANDON-  (Deep breath, this is hard)  It’s my own fault…I should have done more             checking…it’s just that, well, I have a wife and two kids to feed, and my unemployment            is about to finish…and I figured, even if this wasn’t a high-paying job, this area might be            cheaper to live than in Barstow…
SHERRY – (Horrified)  You came all the way from Barstow? 
BRANDON – Used the gas and electric money for the gas to get here….but I would have             hitchhiked if I’d thought I had a chance, I guess after a year without work you get             desperate…and the ad said only people who had been unemployed for over six             months…boy I guess they really got me….
            (He removes his jacket and wipes his forehead)
SHERRY -  Oh, dear, would like some coffee, or juice….?
BRANDON -  Thank you… just some water…
MARJ -  The water is 10 dollars…
            (Brandon gives her a look and the two women laugh)
SHERRY -  That’s a desert joke…. Here’s some nice cold water…no charge…
            (He takes the water in one gulp, and Sherry refills it)
MARJ -  Maybe he should be on the water board…..
            (He drinks, then spills some on his head.)
MARJ -  You look like a nice young man, an intelligent young man….let me explain something       to you about me and about the whole purpose of this place.  My Daddy taught me that             nothing on earth is wasted.  He said that life is like this desert – and nothing is ever            wasted in the desert.  Nothing.  Not a drop of water.  Not a cool breeze.  I grew up here,          and I have seen the glory of this truth.  Some people (she gives a nod to Sherry) think I’m        crazy, that I should have put my 10,642 slide rules into the       dump many years ago, but I   have not because I believe that someday, there will be a use for them!  And that is    why I live for recycling.  I re-use everything! I save everything! I have a mulch pile for   all the food I don’t eat.  I even chew the same piece of gum for 7 days…..
            (She indicates a can on her desk.)
SHERRY – I think that was a little too much information…

MARJ -  Don’t interrupt!  (Getting passionate)  I am telling you this because I want to make it          clear that everything I do here is to encourage recycling, to promote recycling – and most    of all, to let the world know that recycling is the future!  I have just enough budget to take             care of my goals, and I cannot – no, I will not – be diverted from my dreams!  So when I        say we do not have a job for you – or anyone else that might walk through that door – I    mean exactly that!  Now, is that clear?

            (Brandon nods and we see he is affected by what she said.)

MARJ -  Now, you may want to go to the City Hall and see if any jobs are posted there…

            (He nods)

BRANDON -  Thank you…
MARJ -  (Softer)  And I would be glad to cover your gas…
            (She goes to a drawer and takes out a can, handing some money to him)
BRANDON -  (Stiff)  That won’t be necessary.
            (When he refuses, she tries to push it on him, but Sherry pulls her back.)
MARJ -  Suit yourself.

 (He turns to go to the door, his head is down, he looks completely defeated. He takes the       piece of paper with the original ad and throws it into the recycling bin. He sighs deeply,            walks to the front door and opens it.  Then, as he does this, he looks back at the recycler,    and his shoulders straighten -  something happens to him and he turns back to the      women.)

BRANDON-  (As he speaks, he gets stronger) Look, you have a lot of great reasons to say ‘no’     to me, but I want you to think about this – here I am, a young man with a family, and I           spent the last week preparing to come down here to try to get this job.  I have an entire   notebook of my work that you never even looked at….here….
            (He opens his briefcase and shows it to them.)
BRANDON – Now, I know that you may never have had any intention of hiring anyone, but             maybe this is one of those times, like when there’s a storm, and something blows up on                    your doorstep and you look at it, and it’s something useful…maybe even valuable!
            What if I hadn’t come today?  What if hundreds of people had shown up on Wednesday     for this job that doesn’t exist?  What if there had been a riot?  What if…..someone did       worse than this on your computer and stolen something important?  Maybe this happened so that I can be here now for this newspaper!  Maybe I can make my own job!  You need    advertisers – I need to work!  What if I split the money with you – 50-50 for any ads I     bring in – for a website I design for you?  You have nothing to lose!  And I’ll find a good    virus protector and alert system so that no one could do this to you again!
MARJ-  Young man, what part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?
BRANDON -  The part that looks at me and can’t see that I am as important as all your mottos             and beliefs and ….
            (He shakes the recycling basket for emphasis)

BRANDON -  ….papers that save trees!  What about saving……Me!  What about recycling a          human being who has a lot of value left?  What can be wrong with that?  (takes a deep    breath)  What about recycling…me?
            (Marj is struck by this and silent, she sits down.  Brandon turns to Sherry.)
BRANDON  - I’m sorry, did I say something wrong?
SHERRY -  No, honey, you said something just right.  Her Daddy – the one with all the slide    rules - used to say that people were …
MARJ – (In her father’s voice)  ….’the most important commodity, and when you forget             that,
you need to stop and go out into the desert for a moment to think.’

            (Marj hands Brandon his notebook.)

MARJ -  You have six months to put together the website and get some advertising for it.  And     it’s 40% for you, but I’ll pay your gas.   That’s six months.  Got it?  Not one day more.  So don’t ask, as I never change my mind. 

            (She grabs her keys and walks out the front door)

SHERRY -  (She knows)  Where you goin’, Marj?
MARJ – (sighs)  Out to think for a bit….I’ll be back soon.

            (Looks at Brandon)

MARJ -  (The boss again) Maybe you can get started on that website?
BRANDON -  I’ll be glad to…

            (She exits and Brandon looks at Sherry.   We hear an engine rev up and Sherry smiles,         
   pulls out the chair for him at the computer.)

SHERRY -  Here you go, Brandon.
BRANDON -  Thank you……Aunt Sherry.
SHERRY -  Better not call me that when she’s around.
BRANDON -  You were right, I guess she didn’t remember about me…
SHERRY -  Why would she?  I’m only an ‘honorary’ auntie…
BRANDON -  Guess I was worried she’d remember my mom..
SHERRY – They barely knew each other – and your momma moved you all away when you             were what, eleven?  Twelve?  Boys change a lot in eighteen years …I must say that             acting you did in LA did help.  I thought you were gonna leave out about the recycling,        but you got it in just   right…
BRANDON – (Pleased)  Thanks, Aunt…I mean, just plain old Sherry.
SHERRY – I may be Sherry, and I sure am old, but I am not plain!
BRANDON -  (Laughs)  I love you, Aunt Sherry.  And I thank you. 
SHERRY – You are welcome. 
BRANDON- (Laughs)  I have to admit, Craig’s List was a great idea – how’d you think of it?        And how did you know it would work?
SHERRY -  I don’t just watch those dancing and reality shows….I’m a big fan of the  police             stuff, too –lot of good ideas.  And as for Marj going along, it’s like that old commercial     about laxatives…sometimes you just have to give nature a nudge…..

            (Brandon doesn’t get this, so he looks around the office.)

BRANDON -  I don’t think this place has changed since I was a kid…. You know, I always             wondered what this thing was….

            (He points at something hanging on the wall)

SHERRY -  That, my dear boy, is a slide rule.
SHERRY -  To understand Marj- and this whole town, you have to understand about slide rules.  Have a seat, this will take a few moments…..

            (He sits and she takes down the slide rule and shows it to him)

SHERRY -  Many years ago, before the Internet, before cell phones, before calculators…..before you were born…back when there were dinosaurs….man realized he didn’t have enough     fingers and toes to count everything…so he invented something that used no            batteries at all….and it was called…the slide rule…..

            (Lights out.  The end of the play – but not the slide rule, which will live forever in the       minds and hearts of all who knew and loved them)


Note: A few words about 'free' -  all these monologues are protected under copyright law and are free to read, free to perform and video as long as no money is charged. Once you charge admission or a donation, or include my work in an anthology, you need to contact me for royalty 
Janet S. Tiger    858-736-6315      
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983

Swedenborg Hall 2006-8

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