A 10 minute play

4 Actors (male and/or female), Minimal Set, 10 Minutes. 
A humorous existential exercise where four characters in a waiting room are unaware of what it is they are waiting for. They argue, threaten, manipulate and vie for superiority.  It is about how many of us remain in a kind of limbo where we wait to live and we wait to die – experiencing neither, experiencing nothing.

AT RISE – NEXT, 12, 13 and 14 are in a waiting room.  There are chairs and there is a door.  After a long SILENCE.

* * * *

12: Seems like we’ve been here forever.

14: How long has it been since anyone’s been called?

NEXT: I fell asleep and lost track of the time.

14: Did everybody take a number?

12: I did. (Examines ticket.  To NEXT.)  Twelve.  I’m number twelve.  You must be eleven.

NEXT: Must I?

12: Well, yes.  You were the only one here when I came in and I’m number twelve.  So, you must be eleven.

NEXT: If you say so.

12: Look at your ticket.

NEXT: I’ll take your word for it.

14: Fourteen.

12: Excuse me?

14: My ticket says fourteen.

12: Then we all know who unlucky thirteen is.

13: Why?  Why unlucky?

12: It’s just a saying.

13: Twelve could be unlucky too, you know?

12: I suppose.  It’s just a saying.

13: Some things are better left unsaid.

12: All right.  I got your point.

NEXT: I could be ten.  Maybe, nine.  Seven.  I bet I’m seven.

12: You’re eleven.

NEXT: How do you know that?

12: I told you.  You were the only one here when I came in.

NEXT: That doesn’t mean anything.  I could be seven as well as next.  I could have let eight, nine, ten and eleven go ahead of me.

12: Why would you do a thing like that?

NEXT: For altruistic reasons.

13: Really?

NEXT: I fell asleep.  I could have been taken advantage of in my sleep. Strange things happen to people while they’re sleeping.  It’s an opportune time for negative forces.

14: Like what?

NEXT: Like dreams and nightmares and spirits from the other side.

13: What other side?

NEXT: Of the door.  Slipping in while you are least aware.  Making yourself their home.  Living in your body.  Dictating your every move.  Your life is no longer your own.  Stranger things have happened.  These and ideas, yet more horrifying, are the foundations for countless systems followed by millions.

14: Jesus Christ!

NEXT: Exactly.

14: Stop pointing fingers.

12: Give us a break!  Look at your ticket.

NEXT: I don’t want to look at my ticket.  I’m next and that’s all anybody needs to know.

12: Suit yourself.  We all do.

14: We all do what?

12: We all suit ourselves.  In the end, we always suit ourselves, don’t we?

13: Sounds selfish, if your asking me.

12: After all, it’s all about self-love, isn’t it?

14: That’s the trouble with people nowadays – no room at the inn for others.

13: What about the rest of humanity?

12: The best kind of self-love embraces all of humanity.

NEXT: Still, everything starts and ends with me, doesn’t it?  I’m next and there’s no question about that.

14: Did anyone knock on the door?

13: From this side or from the other side?

14: From either side.

12: One of us would have answered had it come from the other side.  Did anyone on this side think to knock on the door?

NEXT: Other than yourself?

13: Who would be there to answer?

14: They could have forgotten that we’re here.

12: Or, never really knew.

13: You only just got here.  What’s your hurry?

14: What are we all waiting for anyway?

NEXT: Me.  I’m next.  So relax.  Don’t try to get ahead.  Everybody here knows I’m next.

12: No they don’t.

13: The two of you were here when I came in.  Either one of you could be next for all I know.

14: You were all here when I got here.  Any one of you could be next.  Besides, sooner or later, we all get to be.

NEXT: To be?

14: Next.  Eventually, we all get to be.

13: That makes you last, doesn’t it?

14: For the moment.

NEXT: Don’t try any funny stuff!  I’m next and that’s all there is to it!

12: All right.  You’re next.  I was just pointing out that everybody doesn’t know unless you show us your ticket.

NEXT: I know.  I know I’m next and that’s all that matters.

13: What you know is all that matters, is it?

NEXT: There is nothing else.  It’s everything.  There is you and there is me and I’m next and that’s all there is to it.

14: I haven’t got all day.

12: Why?  Better things to do?

14: Maybe.

12: Umm.  Have you cancer to cure?  The world to save?

14: No.

12: Then why haven’t you got all day?

14: Don’t be a smart-ass.

12: It’s my nature – spots and all that.

14: Then change them.

NEXT: Can’t change spots.  I don’t know who said that, but somebody did and it’s true enough for me.

12: Just curious to know what’s so pressing.

14: It’s my time and I don’t care to waste it.

13: Our time is shared by all of us.  Maybe we don’t have time so much as it has us.  What do you think?

14: I don’t have time to think about those things.

13: That’s a point well taken.

NEXT: What about me?  I’ve been here forever!  You don’t hear me complaining, do you?

14: Why should you?  You’re next.

NEXT: I could sell it to you.

14: What?  Next?

NEXT: That’s right.  I could sell it to you.

14: How much?

NEXT: I need time to think about it.

13: You’d be last.  You’d go from next to last.

12: (Ibid.)  That’s right.  You’re not going ahead of me.

14: Well?  What’s the price?  Everybody’s got a price.

NEXT: I said, I need time to think about it.

13: Everybody doesn’t have a price.

12: I think they do.

14: There must be something better.

NEXT: Better than what?

13: Better than this?  This time?  This awareness?  It’s the best of all possible worlds, isn’t it?

14: Waiting.  There must be something better than waiting.

12: Don’t you threaten us!

14: I’m not threatening anybody.  All I said was that there must be something better.

NEXT: Well, there isn’t.  There’s nothing!  There’s nothing better.  If you came in here looking for trouble you’re sure as hell going to find it!

14: I came in here because this is where I’m supposed to be.  This is where I found myself.  And now I see that I am last and, yet, there must be something better.

NEXT: Then wait.  Wait like the rest of us.  And you can forget about me selling you my place.  I’ve made up my mind and my mind is made up!  You can’t have it and that’s final!

12: Careful, he’s a malcontent.

NEXT: Then he’d better start a riot ‘cause the deal’s off!

14: I might.  I just might be forced to riot.

12: One alone cannot riot.

14: Why not?

12: It’s just not done.  It’s unseemly, but it’s certainly not a riot.

13: It’ll look like St. Vitas Dance.  I knew a man who blew himself up once.

12: What?

14: He said “once.”  You only get to blow yourself up once.

13: Explosives.  He had explosives strapped around his waist and he blew himself up without so much as a wink to warn anybody.  Pre-meditated spontaneous combustion.  Took at least a dozen people with him.  Blood and shit all over the place.

NEXT: Why?

13: Because that’s what happens when people blow themselves up.  It’s something they can do all by themselves – when they’re completely alone.

NEXT: No.  Why did he blow himself up?

13: He was trying to make a point.

12: I don’t understand people like that.

14: I know why.

NEXT: You would.

14: What is that supposed to mean?

NEXT: You’re a malcontent.  You deal in chaos.  You undermine the status quo.  That’s your stock and that’s your trade.

14: When you’ve nothing left to lose only your death has meaning.

12: Ah, the platitude of the malcontent.

13: Umm.  My life would never become so meaningless that I’d blow myself up!

NEXT: My son died in the service of his country.

14: And what country was that?

NEXT: This country.  What country did you think?

14: I wasn’t sure.  You do look a bit foreign to me.

NEXT: He died at the hands of the enemy.

12: What enemy?

NEXT: Does it matter?

13: It should, shouldn’t it?

NEXT: The enemy – the enemy du jour.

12: Of course, they’re always in a state of flux; friends and enemies are funny that way.

NEXT: I’m George, or Mary.  Or, maybe I’m God.

14: What?

NEXT: You heard me.

14: Don’t you get personal!  Don’t you dare get personal!  You’re next and that’s all anybody needs to know!

12: That’s right, you’re next.  Everything else is irrelevant.

NEXT: That I am God is irrelevant?

12: As irrelevant as excuses for yourself.

NEXT: I can be anything I damn well please!  None of you have any history of me.  I am whoever I say I am.

13: People can’t just be who they say they are, can they?  Especially not God!  People can’t be God!

NEXT: They can, if it doesn’t change who it is they really are.

14: Certainly not.  He’s next and that’s all there is to it.

NEXT: Says who?

14: You.  You told us you were next.

NEXT: That’s right.  And, now I am telling you that I am something altogether different.  Can’t I be both?

13: You can’t be two things at once.  It isn’t polite.

12: You can’t be something else because you say so.  Nobody can be anybody just because they say so.  It doesn’t work that way!

NEXT: Of course it does.

13: It isn’t done.

14: Show us your ticket.

NEXT: I ate it.

13: What kind of person eats their ticket?

NEXT: Altogether something else.  We do whatever we damn well please.

13: That’s not acceptable!

14: People can’t do whatever they damn well please.

NEXT: Why not?

14: I don’t know why not.  But, there must be a reason.

12: There is no reason, is there?

NEXT: Isn’t there?

NEXT crosses to door and knocks. As the LIGHTING FADES we hear the voice from the other side of the door: