Cobwebs and Trapdoors
PATRICK stands alone onstage. DONALD walks onstage. He stands in the light, motionless, holding a cup of coffee, steam barely rising off the top.
PATRICK: This man's name is Donald. He is a father, he is a son, he is a husband. In general he is a good person. I know that, because I follow Donald. I follow Donald a lot. It's usually very easy, because Donald and I work together.
Some lights come up, revealing a stereotypical theatrical representation of an office space, complete with mindless office drones doing mindless office things. A large sign in the background says:
“Work is Work”
PATRICK moves and sits at one of the empty desks. DONALD walks past PATRICK to his own desk. They are close, but you wouldn't call them neighbors.
DONALD: Morning, Patrick. Good weekend?
PATRICK: Fine weekend, Don, yourself?
DONALD: Pretty quiet. Carrie was working on some big presentation for this next week where she works, so it was just me and Trevor most of the time.
PATRICK: Father/son bonding weekend? Sounds like a good time.
DONALD: It was, it was.
There is a slightly awkward pause, before DONALD breaks it, ready to move on..
DONALD: Well, better start crunching those numbers I suppose.
PATRICK: I suppose, as soon as they start crunching themselves, we're both in trouble, right?
DONALD laughs the type of laugh you laugh at coworkers that really aren't that funny, but you're at work, so you have to play nice.
DONALD: (Still fake chuckling a bit) You kill me, Patrick, you're just always on.
DONALD leaves to go sit. There is a moment of rhythm as all of the office workers begin typing in unison. It's an odd beat, staccato, and very bland. It carries through PATRICK's next little speech.
PATRICK: And that's what it is. Every single morning we're either discussing the weekend, or sports, or the weather, or his kids, all with the exact same tone. You know the one. It's the one that says: I don't really care about you at all, but we are at work, and we are expected to pretend to be friendly, and it's weird if we don't do this little dance with each other every morning because at one random moment we started it and now it's become a habit I'm terrified to break, and I have no idea why. You know, that kind of tone.
The end of PATRICK's small monologue is emphasized by all of the office drones hitting the space bar three times in succession, then taking a loud sip of coffee, before falling quiet.
PATRICK: Oddly enough, it's the exact same discussion that I have with everybody here. I am popular. I have many work friends. They don't fascinate me. Donald fascinates me. He is utterly normal, utterly like every other drone in this very building, but he fascinates me. I am obsessed with him. I hate him with a desire so consuming that it feels like a religion. Donald is my religion. I am devoted.
A “ring-girl”, dressed in fairly modest bondage-wear, walks across the stage holding up a clock. The time on the clock is 12:45. A man comes out with a small poster on top of a stick. He holds this in front of the words: “Work is Work”, and the sign now reads:
“Lunch is Lunch”
Everybody on stage stands up, takes out a lunchbox, and files offstage, except for PATRICK who stays seated.
PATRICK: Today is a Tuesday, which means that Carrie has made him a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato packed separately. I know this because for a year and a half I documented everything that Donald ate. Donald and his wife are creatures of habit. I check up on it occasionally, even now, three years later. I'm always correct. I have never been wrong. That's why I know today is turkey day.
PATRICK takes out a thermos.
PATRICK: My lunch is a shake. My meals are always shakes. I have three per day. Each is 40% protein, 25% fat, and 35% carbs. Each shake is 700 calories. I also take a multivitamin. I do this because it is easy and it is perfect.
PATRICK sips the shake.
PATRICK: The rest of work flies by.
Everybody walks back in, sits at their desks. The ring-girl walks back again, the clock now showing 1:15. The man takes the “Lunch is Lunch” sign, and leaves. As soon as the girl and man are offstage, everybody save for PATRICK types out a blazingly fast rhythm. The girl and man walk back on. The clock now says 5:00. The man takes up his usual position, the sign now reading: “Home is Home”. A woman comes in holding an old steam whistle, and stands next to the man with the sign. The man pulls the steam whistle with one hand, holding his sign with the other. As he does so, no noise is emitted, but the woman pulls a sign from behind her back that reads: “LOUD WHISTLE NOISE”. Everybody, save for DONALD and PATRICK gets up and leaves. DONALD and PATRICK rise too, and DONALD approaches PATRICK.
DONALD: Hey, Patrick, mind if I ask you a question?
PATRICK: (To audience) This is not normal. This is highly unexpected. My excitement grows. (To DONALD) Not at all, Don. Shoot.
DONALD: Well, my wife and I are having a few people over for a little dinner thing this Saturday, nothing too formal, and I was wondering if you and your wife would like to join?
PATRICK: (To audience) I am awash with excitement. I feel like jumping for joy, my heart is so incredibly full. I begin to worry I will need to hide a spontaneous exitement-erection, so I attempt to calm myself down. (To DONALD) That sounds excellent, it's been a while since either of us have gone anywhere or done anything fun like that. We would love to. What time?
DONALD: Drinks at 5:30, dinner at 6:30, if that works.
PATRICK: That sounds perfect. I can't wait. Donna will be so excited.
DONALD: Well, I gotta run. See you tomorrow, Patrick. Have a good night.
PATRICK: Yeah, right back at you, and thanks so much for the invite.
DONALD: No problem. Get home safe.
PATRICK: Yeah, I'll do that. You too.
DONALD walks off. This leaves just PATRICK alone in a sea of desks. A line of janitors comes through with push brooms and sweeps the desks off leaving only PATRICK's.
PATRICK: But I do not go home. I'm stuck to my chair, because for the first time in a long time, I'm feeling an emotion. And that emotion is fear.
PATRICK rises from his desk, walking downstage. During his next line, a janitor comes through with a broom and sweeps off his desk.
PATRICK: I remember it well. The exact moment. I looked at the clock on the wall--
The clock from earlier is thrust into view stage left.
PATRICK: --and it said 4:22. I had to pee.
Two people come from either sides of the stage, one carrying a door frame, the other, a door. They put them together in front of PATRICK, and walk upstage, miming PATRICK entering a bathroom. The door swings very wide, so that we can see the “Male Bathroom Sign”. Their task completed, those two move back and out of the way.
One person enters, this time with a piece of cardboard which is placed in front of PATRICK, simulating a urinal. On the audience-side of the cardboard is a cartoon drawing that “finishes the picture” of PATRICK preparing to pee in a urinal. As PATRICK lets out a satisfied sigh, the person holding the cardboard places a smaller piece on top, changing the picture from PATRICK preparing to use a urinal, to PATRICK actually using a urinal.
Behind him, the “door people”, scuttle over stage right, where DONALD is walking onstage. He pushes through them very naturally, entering the bathroom. Another person with a cardboard urinal enters, and stands in front of DONALD. DONALD and his cardboard person are about 3 feet stage right of PARTICK
PATRICK: (To audience) Donald is one of those guys. You know the guys I'm talking about. A whole row of urinals covering a wall, and where does Donald stand?
DONALD and his cardboard person move a big step to his left, scrunching right up next to PATRICK.
PATRICK: Shoulder to shoulder, like executioners in a firing squad.
Subtly, as DONALD moves in, PATRICK's 'cardboard person' removes the 'peeing cardboard' and replaces it with a version that is not peeing, and with a much smaller penis, implying a bit of stage fright. PATRICK sneaks a very obvious glance at DONALD.
PATRICK: Donald's penis is large and aesthetically appealing. Mine is fine. It's just fine.
DONALD: Man, 5 o'clock will just never come, will it?
PATRICK: Some days are like that.
DONALD: And on top of that, my wife texts me, and she wants me to stop and grab a bunch of things on the way home, like I'm not already going to be stuck in rush hour traffic for half an hour...
PATRICK: That traffic, man, it'll get ya if you're not careful.
DONALD: She's a good lady though. How about you? You married?
PATRICK: (To audience) I thought quickly. This was before my fascination with him. Before the incident. Currently, Donald means nothing to me, except for being the cause of a little stage fright here.
(To DONALD) Yeah, actually. Married almost 9 years.
DONALD: No kidding, what's her name?
PATRICK: (To audience) I was lying. I'm not sure why. Maybe for fun. Maybe out of boredom. I don't know. Either way, I now had a wife, and she needed a name. (To DONALD) It's...uh...Don..na. Donna. Donna Mae really, but she drops the Mae off of it. Too classical, she says.
DONALD: I see where she's coming from. Catch you later, Patrick.
And with that, DONALD zips himself up and leaves, pulling open the door this time. When the door shuts, PATRICK's 'small penis cardboard' is replaced with the 'peeing cardboard' again. PATRICK takes a look into DONALD's urinal.
PATRICK: The man didn't even flush.
PATRICK zips up his own pants, and flushes. He moves toward where DONALD exited, but instead of moving out the door, he stops short, and is met by somebody coming in with a cardboard sink. As PATRICK washes his hands and talks with us, the person holding the cardboard sink holds a small sign under it that says, “WATER NOISES”.
PATRICK: At that point, I only disliked Donald a bit. Not even enough to really care if he found out I was lying about my wife. I didn't have my purpose then. My religion. I was a lost child, in a sea of uncertainty.
PATRICK shakes off his hands, and turns off the water. The person holding the cardboard sink turns it around, where there is a drawing of a hand dryer. As PATRICK turns it on, the “WATER NOISES” sign is turned so that it says, “LOUD WHOOSHING”. PATRICK speaks up to be heard over this silent noise.
PATRICK: That was the second time I ever talked to Donald. The first was an introduction, the third was the incident. But the second holds a special place in my heart-
The hand dryer 'shuts off', and PATRICK speaks normally again.
PATRICK: --after all, it gave me my wife.
PATRICK walks through the door again, and the whole bathroom scene is gone. The office scene behind it is gone. PATRICK is slowly making his way across an empty stage, typing on his phone.
PATRICK: Back to the now. Before I'm even on the first floor of the building, the want ad is online.
As PATRICK reads out his want ad, people walk far upstage from stage left to right, carrying his want ad word by word on posters.
PATRICK: Seeking: A woman between the ages of 18 and 40 to convincingly play as wife during a dinner party. Must be comfortable with some light touching, fake intimacy, small talk, etc. Pay is based on performance, at a minimum $500, and at a maximum $1000, for two nights work. Contact within the next two days to receive a chance to audition. Please email me at email@example.com Thank you
PATRICK looks at his phone for a moment, then types one more thing. A woman with a “period” on her poster runs in the background to catch up with the rest of the ad.
PATRICK: Forgot a period. There we go. Now all that's left to do is retire to the humble abode, and begin to plan. It's time to plan, because at this dinner party, Donald will reveal to me exactly how to bring him down. And the best part is, he won't even know he's done it.
CARRIE KING/CARRIE'S VOICE