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Naked lunch (A short play)

Naked lunch

Two men, two women, any mix of ages.

Setting: A round table for four at a bar, men and women across from each other.

(Conceived with Dale and Sage being the women and Tanner and Hammond being the men, but any variation of genders is possible.  Names can also be changed, they are used here only to keep track of which character is speaking or referred to. )

As lights come up, Dale is in mid-sentence:

Dale:  …but is he intelligent?

Sage: I don’t think so.

Dale: He isn’t intelligent?

Sage No.

Dale :  But then why does he have this power over you?

Sage:  What does intelligence have to do with it?

Hammond:  Excuse me.

Dale & Sage together:  What?

Hammond: Who are you talking about?

[pause]

Dale: Well, you.

HammondMe!?!

Dale: [matter-of-factly] Well, yes.

[pause]

Tanner:  [irritated]  How long have we been waiting?

Hammond:  For what?

Tanner:  For a waiter, of course.

Dale:  [affectionately] We’re in a bar, dork-brain, you gotta go up to the bar to get served.

Hammond:  Wait a minute.

Tanner:  I’m sick of waiting.

Hammond:  I’m not talking about that.

Tanner:  Isn’t that what we’re talking about?

Hammond: No, we weren’t.  We were talking about them talking about how I’m dumb but have some power over Sage.

Tanner: So?

Hammond: So!?!  So I wanna know what this is all about?  I’m dumb, am I?

Sage: No, not dumb.

Dale:  You don’t care about the power you have over her?

Hammond: Of course I do.  Are you kidding?  I have power over her???

Phillis and Sage together:  Certainly.

Hammond:  That’s ridiculous.

Dale:  Hardly.

Tanner:  So to get service I have to go up to the bar myself?

Sage:  Why don’t you go up there, Hammond, you’re closer?

[Hammond gets up and starts to move toward the (off-stage) bar.  He stops half-way.]

Hammond:  You must be joking.   You two agree that I’m stupid but have some power over Sage and I’m supposed to trot off to the bar?

All three except Hammond:  Exactly!

Hammond:  No, wait a minute, we gotta work this out first!

Tanner:  And we’re all supposed to die of thirst in the meantime?

Hammond:  You go, then, you’re the one dying of thirst.

Sage and Tanner:  We all are!

Sage:  Besides, this isn’t something we’re gonna “work out,” as you say, in thirty seconds.   Go get some beers.

[Hammond hesitates, then comes back to his seat and sits down, pissed, sulking.]

Tanner:  Well, I guess if we needed a demonstration…[pause]

Hammond:  A demonstration!   What, are you all in this together?

Tanner:  In what?

Dale:  Perhaps we should go somewhere else.

Tanner:  Like where there’s service.  That would be nice.

Sage:  Oh, I don’t mind.  I’m happy here.

Hammond:  [end of tether]  Would..someone…kindly…tell…me…what’s…going on here?

Tanner:  Not much, apparently.  I sure could use a beer, though.

[pause]

Sage:  Look, Hammond, I’ve been wanting to tell you for a long time.

Hammond:  Tell me what?  That I’m a stupid lunk with a Svengali complex?

Dale: She shouldn’t have to tell you.   No point in playing dumb.

Hammond:  I thought you two said that’s what I was.   Dumb, I mean, not playing dumb.

Tanner:  I wish I had the power over someone or something.   I can’t even get a beer.

Dale:  You could get it yourself.

Tanner:  You said it yourself:  He’s closer.

Sage:  [emphatically] No, I said that.

Tanner:  Who cares who said it.  He’s closer.  He even got up to go to the bar.  [to Hammond]  How hard is that?  You never got beers from a bartender before?

Hammond:  That isn’t the point.

Tanner:  I thought it was.

Dale:  Let’s go somewhere else.

[all but Hammond stand to leave, checking around themselves to be sure they aren’t forgetting something]

Hammond:  Aren’t you forgetting something?

Tanner:  The tip?  No need.  Nothing happened.  [All but Hammond exit.]

[Hammond sits for a moment.  Ponders.  Gets up and follows the others, quickly, to catch up to them OR Hammond slams his fist on the table.  Looks accusingly, almost threateningly, at the audience as though it’s their problem.]

BLACKOUT