skizzy the wonder lizard's writing (lizardscrawls) wrote,
skizzy the wonder lizard's writing
lizardscrawls

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for playwriting

by request, here is the entire play. i've tweaked it a bit in places, but otherwise it's pretty much the same. it is 23 pages long.

i've tentatively titled it The Light is Above Us.

comments and suggestions are, as always, welcome.



(Scene One. The stage is littered with chairs. There is a long table covered with papers USR. A RECEPTIONIST sits at the table. USC is a metal cabinet. The light is harsh. It comes from a fluorescent light fixture hanging visibly above. There is a barely perceptible hum from the lights. From SL enter IZZY and TARA. There is the sound of two drops of water falling into a bucket. IZZY is supporting TARA with one arm and holding an umbrella over both of their heads with another. TARA is coughing madly into a piece of bloodstained cloth. The RECEPTIONIST pays no attention. IZZY awkwardly closes the umbrella and helps TARA over to the desk. IZZY pulls up two chairs (she has many to choose from) and she and TARA sit. The RECEPTIONIST still does not look up.)

IZZY
(to audience) New York. Ten PM. There is rain and an unusual chill in the air. My friend Tara is coughing up blood. (to RECEPTIONIST) My friend Tara is coughing up blood.

TARA
(helpfully holding out her bloody cloth) And tissue!

IZZY
(tapping on the desk) She’s coughing up blood and tissue.

TARA
Wanna see?

IZZY
Jeez, Tara.

RECEPTIONIST
Proof of insurance.

(TARA goes into a coughing fit.)

IZZY
She needs a doctor right away.

RECEPTIONIST
Proof of insurance.

TARA
Pocket, pocket.

(IZZY pulls a wallet out of TARA’s pocket. She slaps the insurance card on the desk.)

RECEPTIONIST
Proof of insurance. The doctor will see you shortly.

(The RECEPTIONIST stands, leads the girls to some chairs DS, and exits.)

IZZY
(commentary) The light in here is harsh. Unwelcoming. Fluorescent light has a weight to it that settles right below your ribs. It finds all your hollow places and sinks into them. It doesn’t fill them, but instead makes you aware of their emptiness.

TARA
I hate hospitals.

IZZY
I’ve yet to meet the person who likes them.

TARA
Ooh, look, this particular bloody chunk of my lung looks just like Jerry Springer!

IZZY
Jesus! Will you quit showing me your displaced body pieces?

TARA
Did you know he used to be the mayor of Cincinnati? And here he is coming out of my lungs! He sure does get around. (softer) I’m sorry I ruined your trip, Iz.

IZZY
It’s not ruined. Merely…enhanced. How many people get free tours of New York City emergency rooms on their very first visit?

TARA
It wasn’t free. You paid for the cab. (coughs into the cloth) Ooh ah. Gross. I think I need another handkerchief or something. Maybe a bucket.

IZZY
Where’d that receptionist go?

(IZZY begins peering off into the wings, looking. TARA lies down on the chairs. Suddenly two NURSES come in, carrying a Latina woman in her early 50s. She is crying. The NURSES put her on the table. The sound of a drop of water falling into a bucket.)

LATINA WOMAN
¡Mi pierna! ¡Mi pierna está quebrada! Necesito un teléfono para llamar a mi hija. ¡Mi hija necesita saber donde estoy!

NURSES
(in unison) The doctor will be with you shortly.

IZZY
Hey wait! My friend here needs—

NURSES
(in unison) The doctor will be with you shortly.

(Exit NURSES. IZZY doesn’t know what to do. She returns to her seat.)

LATINA WOMAN
Mi pierna…

IZZY
(commentary) New York. Ten-fifteen PM. There is fluorescent light and an unusual chill in the air. The nurses have brought in another person. A woman. She is clutching her leg. My friend Tara is coughing up blood. I can’t do anything to help her. I can’t do anything to help either of them.

LATINA WOMAN
Ohhh….


IZZY
(commentary) She is speaking of her pain. She may be speaking of other things as well. My seven years of French training has proven to be worthless once again. I am here but cannot answer. I am here but cannot help.

LATINA WOMAN
Mi hija se preocupará. ¿Qué haré? ¿Qué haré? Oh…

IZZY
(to TARA) You took seven years of Spanish, didn’t you?

TARA
Took, bullshitted my way through, same thing.


IZZY
What is that woman saying?

TARA
Didn’t you just hear me say that I skipped just about every day? I dunno, something about her arm or leg. I forget which.

IZZY
Hooray for education. (to LATINA WOMAN) Um, mi habla…es….Izzy?

(TARA laughs softly.)

What? Did I say it wrong?

TARA
I don’t know what you said, but it wasn’t what you wanted to say, I’m sure.

LATINA WOMAN
I speak English.

IZZY
Oh.

LATINA WOMAN
Your speech is Izzy? (laughs)

IZZY
No, my name. I’m sorry.

LATINA WOMAN
The ones who should be sorry are the damn doctors. I fall coming out of work, they pick me up and take me here. Ai, my leg! Where will my daughter go to look for me? They will not even give me a phone. What kind of place is this, where I cannot even use a phone?

IZZY
(brightens) Well, that’s easy enough. I can help with that. Tara, give me your cell phone.

TARA
(barely lifting her head) Do you really think I thought to grab my cell phone when my lungs were gushing blood?

IZZY
You mean it’s not here?

TARA
Sorry baby. It’s still on the charger.

IZZY
There’s got to be a phone around here somewhere. And I still need to get you a cloth. Hold on, let me see.

(IZZY darts R, offstage.)

LATINA WOMAN
(to TARA) You have to cough, cough that way. Why don’t you watch where your germs are going?

TARA
It’s asthma-related, you can’t catch it. Why don’t you watch where you step?

(IZZY returns.)

IZZY
What kind of hospital is this?

(She runs offstage, to the left this time.)

LATINA WOMAN
Keep that bloody rag away from me. Many diseases are caught from blood.

TARA
I’m not anywhere near you! Besides, what are you gonna do? Run away?

(IZZY returns.)

IZZY
Nobody.

LATINA WOMAN
Thank you anyway. (pointedly) You are the kindest person I’ve spoken to in this hospital.

TARA
Don’t talk to her, Izzy, you’ll pollute her pristine lungs.

IZZY
I love how you spread sunshine everywhere you go, Tara.

TARA
She started it.

IZZY
(commentary) Now the air is thick with tension and heavy with white light. It’s starting to envelop my skin. Like a straightjacket. Are we the prisoners that we feel we are? If so, where are our sentinels? Are the words “Emergency Room” not urgent enough for them? Or are the words too strong, and have frightened our saviors away?

TARA
Look, look, here comes somebody. Stop her!

(A crisp white NURSE walks in briskly. IZZY immediately jumps in front of her, blocking the way.)

IZZY
Finally! Signs of life! Excuse me, but my friend Tara here really needs a clean cloth, and this woman here…uh….

LATINA WOMAN
Maria. Maria Deleon.

IZZY
…Maria Deleon needs to use the phone so her daughter knows where she is. Can you help us?

NURSE
Proof of insurance?

IZZY
Oh, er, I thought we did that part already.

NURSE
The doctor will be with you shortly.

(The NURSE sidesteps IZZY and continues on.)


IZZY
Wait. When?

NURSE
(not looking back) The doctor will be with you shortly.

(Exit NURSE.)

IZZY
(commentary) There are ghosts here, dressed in white, appearing at random and disappearing when looked for. These ghosts glide through the walls. I don’t think they have feeling. I don’t think they have any concern with the living at all.

TARA
Did that nurse just blow you off?

IZZY
I can’t believe it. How hard is it to bring a towel and tell us where a phone is?

TARA
What a bitch. I hope she’s the one who’s going to have to clean up all my blood when this rag gets too soaked.

IZZY
Jeez, please, will you stop talking about your blood?

TARA
What better place than a hospital?

MARIA
Some hospital.

TARA
When she comes back, kick her ass, Iz.

IZZY
I don’t think she’s coming back.

TARA
I swear to god, if I wasn’t near death, I’d hop up and give somebody a piece of my mind. I’ll have to settle with giving you all a piece of my lung.


IZZY
Har har.

MARIA
You keep your lung germs to yourself!

IZZY
(commentary) I have known Tara for many years now. Even in junior high she was the one who you knew would get out and go flying someplace high. She was the first of my friends to leave home, the first to apply to colleges, the first to leave the state, to go rushing off to New York City. I am only here visiting on her tailfeathers. It is strange to see her trapped now, beneath bright white lights, unable to move. I like that she wants to laugh. I don’t think Maria likes it so much, though. I like that her need to laugh rounds off the sharp edges of the hospital lights, if only for a second.

(Enter a NURSE, leading a MAN to one of the chairs. The MAN is in his 40s. His arm is shaking badly, and he clutches at it to keep it still. He seems to be in great pain. The sound of a drop of water falling into a bucket.)

NURSE
The doctor will be with you shortly.

IZZY
(commentary) Another one has gotten trapped.

MAN
I need to see the doctor right away, Nurse. Right away!

NURSE
The doctor will be with you shortly.

(Exit NURSE. The MAN looks forlorn.)

MAN
(to everyone in the room) Now, I know just what this is. It’s an allergic reaction to my medicine. It’s medicine for my colon. My colon’s a mess. It’s new, just started on it yesterday. The old stuff made me sick to my stomach. They told me to come into the emergency room if I had a reaction to this new stuff. A reaction’s exactly what this is. All I need is to see the doctor and tell him.

IZZY
That sounds pretty serious.

TARA
Christ, man, we should get you to a hospital!

MARIA
You be quiet. You know where you are.

TARA
(melodramatic) This isn’t a hospital, this is the seventh ring of hell!

IZZY
(explanatory) Tara’s a theater major.

(MARIA and the MAN nod knowingly. Suddenly the MAN’s arm spasms.)

MAN
Ohh my. Oh. Oh.

IZZY
A doctor, a doctor!

(She does the same running back and forth bit that she did earlier, only to return dejected.)

I just don’t understand. Just how long is “shortly,” anyway?

MAN
The pain, it’s like knives…

MARIA
Vamos a morir, lo sé.

TARA
Izzy, make them stop, they’re freaking me out.

IZZY
What am I supposed to do?

TARA
I don’t know, you’re the former camp counselor.

IZZY
You want me to build a campfire and make them S’mores?

TARA
Sure, why not? A fire might finally bring somebody in here.

IZZY
No, I got it! (to everyone) I think we should pray.

TARA
Pray? You mean, like, to God?

MARIA
Ai, now the only healthy one amongst us is having fits! Fits of uselessness. False hope is a disease.

MAN
Now, I think the little lady has something there. Go on there, darlin’, I’ll pray with you. I need all the help I can get.

MARIA
Help? You think so? Why waste precious breath?

TARA
I can certainly relate to that. Anyway, you’ve never prayed before in your life, Izzy.

IZZY
(quietly) Yes I have.

MARIA
Prayers are for the foolish. We need doctors, not angels.

IZZY
No, no! Listen. When I was young, maybe about six years old, someone came to our door in the middle of the night. They banged and banged on the door and windows for hours. Only my mother and two little sisters were home. My mother came flying into our room and snatched us up and made us huddle in the hallway, away from the windows. For hours we sat there, apart from any kind of light, while this banging just kept going and going. I thought that whoever was out there was going to smash our house open and kill us all.

TARA
Holy shit, Iz. You’ve never told me that before.

IZZY
It was really terrifying. After a while it became too much, and I started to cry. Of course that set off my little sisters, and so there was my poor mother, with a monster trying to invade her house, with three sobbing girls. And she said, “we should pray.” She made us all hold hands and be very quiet and she prayed with us. And then the banging just—stopped.

TARA
That’s fucked up!

MARIA
I do not believe it.

IZZY
It happened, I swear.

TARA
I wonder who the banging guy was?

MARIA
The devil, of course. No one else would run away from holy words. What will words do?

MAN
They can help, that’s what.

MARIA
Help with what? Help to drown out the noise of these horrible lights?

TARA
Hell, that’s good enough for me. Do it, Izzy. Pray for towels from heaven.

MARIA
Pray for telephones.

TARA
You don’t get anything, ye of little faith. Pray for a private room, Iz.

MAN
You’re supposed to ask for the strength to get through trying times, not for material things.


TARA
Psh. Let Izzy pray. She’ll ask for the real stuff.

IZZY
Okay, let’s join hands.

(MARIA groans.)

MAN
Oh, humor the girl, why don’t you? It’s not like you’re going to get any help like that.

(MARIA reluctantly holds out her hand, but recoils when TARA reaches for it. Actually, nobody wants to touch the coughing TARA. She ends up clutching IZZY’s shirt while the other two hold IZZY’s hands.)

IZZY
Okay. Our father who art in heaven…or mother, I suppose….

TARA
Or fathers and mothers.

IZZY
Or god who art not in heaven? Hallowed be thy name.

TARA
Which name are we using here? Yahweh?

MARIA
Maybe Allah?

IZZY
We could pray to Zeus. That could be interesting.

TARA
Ooh, or Isis.

MARIA
Stick with Jesus, to be on the safe side.

IZZY
Jesus is a pretty good one.

MAN
Never prayed on your own before, have you?

IZZY
Well…not really.

MAN
Here, give me a shot at it, ladies.

(There is quiet for a few beats. The MAN looks silently skyward, then bows his head. The others bow their heads as well.)

Watcher of men, give us the patience to wait, the kindness to support one another, and the strength to persevere. Amen.

TARA and IZZY
Amen.

(Everyone lets go of IZZY.)

MARIA
That’s it? That’s the whole prayer?

MAN
That’s all we need.

(A short pause.)

IZZY
(commentary) I am in a hospital room with my friend Tara on my last night in New York City. There are two strangers here. We have just prayed together.

MARIA
I have wasted enough time now. I need a telephone.

TARA
It wasn’t so much a waste. I’m feeling kinda better.

MARIA
You? You! You may feel better, but how do you think my daughter feels? Not better! Not better! Prayers don’t help her. I must let her know where I am. She will think she has lost another one.

IZZY
I looked everywhere for a phone. I didn’t see one at all.

MARIA
Then I will look myself!

(MARIA begins to attempt to get off the table. IZZY runs over to stop her.)

IZZY
Are you trying to break your other leg?

MAN
Good grief, woman! Hold still!

MARIA
¡No me toque! Their doctor will not come.

TARA
I don’t think the “patience” part of the prayer helped Maria at all.

MARIA
I keep trying to tell you, you don’t listen to me. You and your useless praying. When her baby Marcus went missing, we prayed then too. We went running around the house in little circles. You, with your running! What will circles do? We held hands together and prayed to whoever would listen. Her baby never returned and neither will these doctors. She was supposed to pick him up too, that day. I am not missing! I cannot let her think I am missing! All the good your praying has done!

(Suddenly the MAN’s arm begins to spasm. IZZY is trying to decide where to go for help when a NURSE suddenly enters, wheeling in an OLD PERSON of indiscriminate gender and age, but it is certain that he or she is quite old. The NURSE parks the wheelchair by the cabinet. The sound of a drop of water falling into a bucket. The hum of the fluorescent light becomes slightly louder. )

NURSE
The doctor will be with you shortly.

IZZY
Nurse! Could you please tell the doctor that we need him right away? This man—


NURSE
The doctor—

MAN
I just need a few minutes, to tell the doctor that—

NURSE
--will be with you shortly.

IZZY
Please, shortly is too long.

OLD PERSON
I need a drink of water.

NURSE
Doctor. Shortly.

(Exit NURSE. Everyone turns to look at the newcomer, who doesn’t look back but instead drops his or her head to chest and dozes very lightly.)

MARIA
You see?

IZZY
(commentary) New York. Eleven twenty-two pm. Another person enters. The room is getting smaller.

(The MAN clutches at his arm and IZZY immediately goes to him. MARIA tries to get up again. IZZY is busy with the MAN and doesn’t notice until MARIA tries to put weight on her leg and shouts.)

IZZY
(rushing over and helping MARIA back onto the table) Praying may be stupid but trying to walk on a broken leg is even stupider.

MARIA
Are you calling me stupid, child?

MAN
Leave the poor girl alone. She’s done nothing but try to help you and all you can do is holler.

(MARIA is silent as IZZY helps her.)

MARIA
(quietly) Thank you, Izzy.

IZZY
You’re welcome, Maria Deleon.

(TARA starts up a particularly nasty coughing fit. The hum of the lights grows slightly louder. IZZY goes over to her, begins rubbing her back and trying to comfort her. The OLD PERSON wakes up a bit at the noise and looks around.)

OLD PERSON
I need some water. A drink of water.

IZZY
I should go look for a fountain.

TARA
You really think you’ll find one?

IZZY
Maybe.

TARA
Always the optimist.

IZZY
Well, I should at least try.

TARA
(coughing very hard) Wait, wait, stay here a second. I don’t want Maria to start screaming at me about my airborne toxins.

IZZY
She’ll scream at you whether I’m here or not.

TARA
Well, stay here a second anyway! Christ, for a do-gooder, you sure are dense.

IZZY
Jeez, Tara! You should write greeting cards.

(TARA lays her head in IZZY’s lap.)

TARA
Izzy, my lungs hurt.

IZZY
I know, Tara.

TARA
They’re bleeding, Izzy.

IZZY
Thanks for updating me, Tara. (softer) I’ve got to find you a doctor.

TARA
If I die here tonight, I want you to take the bits of my lung that are in this cloth and spell out the words IF YOU PRICK US, DO WE NOT BLEED right on the floor there.

IZZY
Christ, Tara!

TARA
Ha! I knew that would gross you out.

OLD PERSON
I need…I need a drink of water.

TARA
Oh, go find that guy some water. Or lady. (quietly) Shit. Is it a man or a woman?

IZZY
Tara! Don’t call people “it.”

TARA
Well? You can’t tell either, so what would you call it?

IZZY
You just as easily could have said, “Is that person a man or a woman?”

TARA
You’re wasting time! It could be dying of thirst as we speak!

IZZY
Close your mouth, you’re spreading germs. I’ll be right back.

TARA
You’re a bitch. While you’re gone, stop at the receptionist’s desk and try to get my insurance card back. I want to get out of this place.

IZZY
What if you get worse?

TARA
I am getting worse. At least at home I can die in my own bed, watching Nick at Nite.

IZZY
Well, maybe. Wait here, let me try one more time to get somebody. And some water. I’ll be right back.

(Exit IZZY.)

OLD PERSON
Water, I need a drink of water.

MAN
That sweet little girl just went to get some for you.

(IZZY returns, walking slowly, looking bewildered and lost. The hum of the light goes up a few notches.)

TARA
No fountain? Who all saw that one coming?

(MARIA, TARA, and the MAN raise their hands. IZZY doesn’t even pay attention.)

Izzy baby? What’s wrong? Did you get my insurance card?

IZZY
Uh, no. Look Tara, I think it’s a good idea to stay here for just a little while longer.

TARA
What? Why?

IZZY
(tersely) I just do, okay?

TARA
(subdued) Okay.

(IZZY goes over to TARA and holds on to her very tightly. TARA doesn’t ask questions, just pats IZZY’s hand. MARIA and the MAN don’t know what’s going on, but are wise enough to stay silent.)

OLD PERSON
Water…oh, water…

IZZY
(commentary, leaning towards the audience as though about to share a secret, speaking in a hushed tone) New York City. Eleven forty-six pm. I am in a hospital room with my friend Tara, who is coughing up blood, Maria Deleon, whose leg is broken, a man having an allergic reaction, and a person with ailments unknown. They all need things I cannot give. I have looked three times. I cannot find a telephone, a towel, a water fountain, a doctor, or the way out.

(The hum of the light gets slightly louder.)

MAN
The strength to persevere.

IZZY
I don’t think that part of the prayer is working, either.

MAN
It doesn’t always show right away, darlin’. My brother used to say that same prayer every night before he’d go to sleep. Just all of a sudden it would come out of his mouth, just as he was drifting off. I didn’t know why he did it at first. He got worse and worse every day, but he kept on that prayer.

TARA
Worse and worse? What was wrong with him?

MAN
Aw, here I am jabbering on like you know what I’m talking about. My brother, Bill. Got the cancer. Died just last year. Not even forty years old.


IZZY
Oh my god, I’m so sorry.

MAN
Well, he was suffering. And he would pray every night, saying “Watcher of men, give us the patience to wait, the kindness to support one another, and the strength to persevere. Amen.” And I couldn’t figure out why he kept praying, because it didn’t seem to me to be helping him any. Just a few days before he went, he made his son and I go in there and pray with him. Well, you don’t say no to a dying man, so we did. Did it to make him feel better.
So for about four or five days we’d go in and pray together. “Watcher of men, give us the patience to wait, the kindness to support one another, and the strength to persevere. Amen.” I thought it was just something to make Bill happy, until we went in one night and Bill wasn’t with us anymore.

MARIA
He was taken.

MAN
I hadn’t known until then how I was going to deal with the dead body, or with Bill being dead after living right next door to me for so long. He was my brother, my little brother. I just thought I was going to fly to pieces. For a second there I about near did. And then for some reason I started saying that prayer. I’d only said it for Bill’s benefit before, but all a sudden I realized that he’d been saying it for our benefit all along.
And I handled it, yes ma’am I did, I arranged the funeral and all of that. Didn’t know how well the prayer had worked until it was all over.

IZZY
That’s really amazing.

MAN
You’re being far stronger than you think.

IZZY
Not strong enough to get some help in here.

MAN
But you’ve been kind enough to try.

OLD PERSON
Please, I need some water.

(The hum of the light gets slightly louder. The light flickers.)

MARIA
Ai! Are we losing power?

IZZY
(commentary) The lights flicker. Each flash is like a punch in the stomach. I am trying to let the prayer warm my cold spots, but the florescent light was here first. It coats my body, like a white shell, not allowing anything past it. When something is touching you this closely, every move it makes jars you as well. Every pulse of the light makes me shake with it.

(IZZY clutches her head and stares at the light for a few beats. Suddenly she leaps up. All eyes are on her except the OLD PERSON, who is beginning to doze again.)

I have to try and find the exit again.

TARA
Find the exit?

MARIA
Find a doctor! And an electrician!

(IZZY exits once more. The others look at each other, bewildered. IZZY returns, almost in tears.)

IZZY
Nothing, nothing!

MARIA
Child, calm yourself. Sit down by your germy friend.

(The lights flicker more wildly. The hum grows still louder.)

TARA
Gee-ack, that’s annoying. Make it stop, Iz.

(TARA suddenly is struck by her worst coughing attack yet. It knocks her off her chair and she kneels on the floor, clutching her chest.)

IZZY
Christ, Tara!

(IZZY goes to her. TARA lies on the ground and is still.)

You’ll be okay! It’s cold on the floor, get up.

TARA
(barely audible) It’s cold everywhere.

(IZZY drags TARA back onto the chairs. The lights stop flickering just long enough to make them all think that it has stopped, then starts again with a vengeance.)

MAN
It’s like being whipped.

(He has an attack as well. He struggles to keep his arm still and cries out in pain. IZZY clutches her head again.)

IZZY
What can I do, what can I do?

MAN
Oh, it hurts. This flickering isn’t making it any better.

IZZY
I know!

(She leaps onto a chair and begins swatting at the flickering light. The hum gets louder. Everyone has to shout to be heard above it at this point.)

MARIA
Ai, ai! I am getting sharp pains in my leg. ¿Oh, qué está pasando? La luz, la luz!

IZZY
I can’t reach it. I can’t reach it!

OLD PERSON
I need water. I am thirsty. I need water.

(The OLD PERSON stands shakily and totters over to the metal cabinet. No one notices as he or she opens it, finds a bottle of clear liquid, and drinks it down. Just as the last drop is draining, the light becomes normal and the humming abruptly stops. Everyone stops shouting and groaning and turns to watch helplessly as the bottle empties. The OLD PERSON lets the bottle fall, and sits heavily in the wheelchair. His or her head bobs, then sinks to his or her chest.)

TARA
Holy shit, what did he drink?

(IZZY has seized the bottle.)
IZZY
I don’t know. It wasn’t water, though.

MARIA
What if it is poison? ¿Qué vamos a hacer?

MAN
(standing, yelling at the top of his lungs) A DOCTOR! We need a doctor!

ALL except OLD PERSON
Doctor, doctor! Help! We need help in here!

(There is silence for five beats. All of a sudden, the hum of the light begins again at medium volume. It gets louder and louder for fifteen seconds. Just as the sound becomes utterly unbearable, the light goes out with a loud pop.)

end scene

end of play







thank you for reading.
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