By Tony Sokol

Written and produced 1999.

SCENE:  Lisa’s apartment at the end of a birthday party she apparently threw for herself. Gina,  Lisa and Valerie are passing around a mirror with some powder and a rolled up $20. Gina takes a long toot.

GINA: This Y2K thing was all planned, you know. I think, at first it was thought up by the programmers, so they could be assured of steady work. But it’s become more.

LISA: What more could it be?

VALERIE: Yeah, really. Now that we’ve given these computer guys steady employment, that’s it.

GINA: No, there are darker forces here.

VALERIE: Darker forces?

 Lisa laughs, almost blowing away all the coke..

LISA: Please. Not while I’m- (gestures to the coke)

GINA: (With increasing speed) It’s an excuse to create a dictatorship. On December 31, they’re going to impose Marshall law, to stop the looting and shit that’s going to happen when the power goes out. Once they suspend the constitution, they have us. Clinton is never going to leave office.

VALERIE: Last week you said Sarajevo was Armageddon.

GINA: It is. Look, I’m telling you, this is what Nostradamus predicted: Mabus, which everybody thinks is the name of the third antichrist, really means the bad place. The bad place that’s supposed to start World War III. Sarajevo started World War I and World War II and it’s right next door to Kosovo. Nostradamus was talking about the Man from the East, and we bombed the Chinese Embassy, pissing off the Chinese. They killed another Kennedy. We’re doomed I’m telling you. Doomed. Hey, yo, rotation.

VALERIE: Yeah, that’s what you need, more coke to feed your paranoia.

They pass her the mirror.

GINA: This isn’t paranoia. This is going to happen. He saw it. I personally read three of his predictions that have come true in the last three weeks.

VALERIE: Where?

GINA: In the Weekly World News.

VALERIE: But that’s all crap.

GINA: Yeah, but they print the prophecies as they were written. Wait until they start picking apart the bible. Revelations and shit. They’re going to figure out that the whore with seven heads is Monica Lewinsky because she gave head to the president seven times.

LISA: You’re making this up.

GINA: Yeah, but only because I can’t remember specifics. They’ll go on CTN to cheer on every famine, drought and earthquake as if its Biblical prophecy.

LISA: Why would they do that?

GINA: Because it’ll prove that their book is right. It’s all a conspiracy. That’s why they wrote a book with an ending, so they could make it happen.

VALERIE: So you think the Bible, we’re talking 2,000 years ago, that it was written just to-

GINA: To thin the herd.

VALERIE: But why?

GINA: I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with the aliens?

VALERIE: So, you’re saying aliens wrote the Bible?

GINA: Yeah.

VALERIE: For what’s basically a real estate deal.

GINA: Right. Exactly. We’re in the way. So they write this whole end of the world scenario so they can beam it to Nostradamus.

VALERIE: Nostradamus killed Kennedy.

GINA: The aliens killed Kennedy.

VALERIE: What’s the point in anything if we’re all just going to be extinct?

LISA:  Personally, I believe Nosferatu-

GINA: Nostradamus.

LISA: Whatever. I believe Nostradamus projected himself into the future, but I think he projected himself into a movie theater, watched a 20th century movie and it French fried his brain.

VALERIE: No, he projected himself in front of a TV that was showing a special on Nostradamus prophecies.

LISA: Isn’t that copyright infringement?

VALERIE: Not if your stealing from yourself. What’s say we pour ourselves a cab and go out to a club. I’d rather get bombed in a crowd.

LISA: You guys go. I gotta wait around here.

GINA: For what?

LISA: Eric’s going to call.

GINA: So? Didn’t you just see him the other day?

VALERIE: Yeah, but she didn’t see him for three months before that.

LISA: He was in Australia scouting a location.

GINA: It’s tomorrow over there.

LISA: So?

GINA: So he should have called already.

VALERIE: Did Nostradamus predict that?

GINA: Nosferatu.

LISA: It’s not tomorrow in Australia.

VALERIE: It’s tomorrow in New York for some people. It’s two in the morning, let’s go out. (to Lisa) You coming?

LISA: Don’t worry about me. I’m going to straighten up a little. Thanks, guys, for showing up.

 Gina takes out a vial.

GINA: Here, a little something extra for yourself.

LISA: Oh god, that must have cost you a fortune.

GINA: Happy birthday.

LISA: So, what is this, more coke?

GINA: Special K.

LISA: What is that?

GINA: Animal tranqs.

LISA: Cool. Thanks.

GINA: The Big Three-Oh.

LISA: Oh, shut up and get out.

GINA: Well, you really know how to throw yourself a birthday party.

 They kiss. Gina exits.

VALERIE: Well, I hope that when I turn 30, I have friends as nice as yours.

 Valerie exits. Lisa puts on the turntable. She finishes what’s in her glass, takes a toot of the K and begins to clean up. Finishing all the drinks left in all the glasses. Puts them in the sink.

LISA: I’ll let these soak. .. Who am I talking to?

 Lisa goes back to the table and snorts one more line. She sits on the couch … puts her head back .. lets her body loose .. lets her arms fall .. she drools out of the side of her mouth. The phone rings. And rings. A dark-hooded figure with a hammer and a sickle enters. Death is about to touch Lisa’s face, but gets the drool instead. Tries to shake it off her finger, but it won’t come off. Lisa begins to wake. Death takes out her hammer and is about to bash her head in.

LISA: What the hell? Gina?

DEATH: No. I’m not Gina.

LISA: You look familiar.

DEATH: I’m familiar to all, but no one sees me until it’s too late.

LISA: I’m too fucked up for riddles. Who are you?

DEATH: Death.

LISA: Death? C’mon, quit kidding around.

DEATH: I’m not. I’m death.

LISA: You’re a lot shorter than I pictured you.

DEATH: At least I don’t throw myself birthday parties.

LISA: Oh my god. You know all that stuff about people?

DEATH: No, I passed your friends in the hallway.

LISA: They told you?

DEATH: They didn’t see me.

LISA: Why didn’t they see you?

DEATH: Only the dead can see me.

LISA: But I’m not dead.

DEATH: If I’m here, you’re dead.

LISA: Bullshit.

 Lisa picks up the mirror on the table and pushes all the excess powder off. She blows on it.

LISA: Look. See? I’m not dead. I wouldn’t be able to fog up the mirror.

DEATH: This can’t be right. My dispatcher is never wrong.

Death takes out her hammer.

LISA: Is that your dispatcher? Are you some kind of serial killer?

DEATH: You’d be surprised how often I hear that. But no, my dispatcher is the guy who calls me for my pickups.  Now, please, if you’ll just put your head down so I can give you a good crack on the head and we can get this over with.

LISA: I thought you touched people.

DEATH: Yes, with the hammer, hard on the crown of the head. Then I take you away.

LISA: Well, that’s no big trick. Anyone who bashes someone’s head in is going to kill them.

DEATH: Not until I get there. Now, if you’ll please-

LISA: I’m not putting my head down.

DEATH: You have to.

LISA: I’m not ready to die.

DEATH: That’s what everyone says.

LISA: But there’s so much-

DEATH: left for you to do? There’s not. It’s over. Whatever you’ve done is it. You’ve lived your life. Now please. We really have to be going. And we have to go now.

LISA: I never even said goodbye to Eric.

DEATH: He won’t even notice you’re gone.

LISA: How do you know these things?

DEATH: Your friends in the hall.

LISA: They talked about that?

DEATH: Yes and unflatteringly. Now you see you have nothing left to live for. Let’s just do this and move on.

LISA: No. I’ll scream for the cops.

DEATH: They won’t hear you.

LISA: Should I scream and find out?

DEATH: I’d really rather you didn’t.

LISA: Why? Because they might come?

DEATH: No. Because everyone’s been screaming today. I have a headache. I’m cramping and I’m just not in the mood.

LISA: Oh. Relax.

DEATH: I’m on a very tight schedule and I still have to fill out the paperwork.

LISA: Paperwork?

DEATH: The bill of lading. Interdimensional customs.

Death’s cell phone beeps.

DEATH: Excuse me please. (Picks up the phone) Yes? JFK? Heart attack? All right, just let me finish up over here. (Hangs up) Please, just lean your head forward. I’m behind.

LISA: Who’s going to notice?

DEATH: Everyone. Please. There are people who need me.

LISA: You’re the last thing people need.

DEATH: You’re exactly right. Please. I don’t have time for this. I’m behind as it is and it’s a holiday weekend.

LISA: Being death must be a very stressful job. You should relax a minute. Take a break.

DEATH: Death is a 24-hour job.

LISA: How long have you been at it?

DEATH: Since the beginning of time.

LISA: There was a beginning of time?

DEATH: There must have been.

LISA: What came before that?

DEATH: I don’t know. I didn’t get here until time began. Now, if you’ll-

LISA: Would you relax for a minute? Here, toot some of this. Really, I promise, it’ll make you feel better. I know it will work on that headache.

DEATH: Toot?

 Lisa cuts a line of the Special K and hands the mirror and the $20 bill to Death.

LISA: Stick this up your nose and inhale.

DEATH: I really shouldn’t.

LISA: Why not?

DEATH: Look what it just did to you.

LISA: Why? I’m not dead.

DEATH: Yes you are. Now please.

LISA: No. You first.

DEATH: Oh very well, if it will make you happy.

 Death snorts.

DEATH: I don’t feel anything.

LISA: Give it a second.

DEATH: Oh my, that’s very nice.

LISA: See?

DEATH: Let me have some more of that.

LISA: It’s very expensive.

DEATH: Worth your life?

Valerie knocks and enters.

VALERIE: Hey Lisa, we figured- Oh shit, I didn’t know you had company.

LISA: She’s not company.

DEATH: I’m Death.

VALERIE: Death?

DEATH: Well, I’m actually the Manhattan chapter. Local 23 of the International Brotherhood of Terminal Workers.

 Gina enters, sees Death.

GINA: Wow. You are so Goth.

VALERIE: Where’d you get that outfit?

DEATH : It came with the job.

VALERIE: (Touching the fabric) Isn’t that uncomfortable?

DEATH: Yes, very. Look, I’m sorry to crash your party, but Lisa and I really had better be going.

GINA: Not so fast there, Ms. Death. She’s not dead.

DEATH: She is.

 Death points to the powder.

DEATH : Do you mind?

LISA: Knock yourself out.

VALERIE: Literally.

 Death snorts. Valerie and Gina join her.

VALERIE: You really have got to go out with us.

DEATH: I don’t go out with people.

VALERIE: You’d be a smash.

GINA: We should take her to The Limelight.

VALERIE: No one will even notice her there.

GINA: I bet we can get her laid.

VALERIE: (Seductively) Hey Death, you ever get laid?

DEATH: I’m not a necrophiliac.

VALERIE: Maybe if you got a little, you wouldn’t be so hot to be delivering corpses.

DEATH: I don’t deliver corpses. (Points to Lisa) As you can see.

LISA:  I’m not dead. I fogged up the mirror.

DEATH: Only a technicality.

VALERIE: So come on. What do you look like under all those robes?

 Valerie moves in and pulls Death’s hood back just enough to get a glimpse at her face. She screams in pure horror. Gina walks over.

GINA: Oh my god, Valerie, are you all right?

Valerie points. Gina pulls Death’s hood back just enough… Screams in pure horror. Death  pulls her hood back for everyone to see. It’s just a plain face. All three  scream in pure,  unadulterated horror.

LISA: Put it back. Put it back.

Death covers herself.

GINA: Wow. You must have seen a lot.

DEATH: Yeah. A lot of  dead people. It gets old. Which is more than I can say for Lisa.

GINA: Hey, that’s our friend you’re talking about.

DEATH: Your late friend. Speaking of late, Lisa, we really have to be going.

VALERIE: Wait. How did she die?

 Death points to the powders and empty glasses.

GINA: No way.

VALERIE: Lisa? You overdosed?

GINA: Cool.

LISA: No, I’m not dead.

DEATH: If you can see me and hear me, you’re dead.

GINA: But we can see and hear you.

VALERIE: Does that mean we’re dead?

DEATH: I doubt it.

GINA: Now that we’ve seen you, does that mean you have to kill us?

DEATH: I don’t know. It’s never come up before.

 Death takes out her notebook.

DEATH: Name?

GINA: Gina Sotilli.

DEATH: Not today.

GINA: You know when everybody’s going to die?

DEATH: I really don’t give it much thought.

GINA: But it’s all in that book?

DEATH: No, this is just my daily rounds.

LISA: Your daily rounds? How can you be so- so-

VALERIE: Cavalier?

LISA: Yeah. This is our lives we’re talking about.

DEATH: Your lives. What is that? Seventy years? Ninety if you’re lucky. A hundred if you’re not. This building is more substantial. It was here before you were born and it will be here after you die. (Looks around.) But better furnished. You’re here to pay the rent.

Cell phone buzzes. Death picks it up.

DEATH: Yeah. 137th and University? Now? But that’s the Bronx. Well, give me a little .. Hey.

GINA: So, where do we go when we die?

DEATH: I don’t know.

GINA: You don’t know?

VALERIE: Isn’t that your job?

DEATH: I’m in shipping. Not receiving.

GINA: What do you do with us?

DEATH: I bring you to the debarkation port in the Cloisters. We wrap you in cellophane, put you in a cocoon and shoot you into the sky. I tell everyone it’s going to be a long wait, give them a book to read to pass the time, tell them to sleep and that when they wake up they’re going to be in heaven and it’s worth it.

GINA: How long does it take to get there?

DEATH: To the Cloisters?

VALERIE: Heaven.

DEATH: I don’t think you ever do. When I got this assignment, my dispatcher pointed to this really big star and said “There.” Time goes by, the star gets bigger. It was an easy target. And then one night, it’s gone. Nothing. A couple hundred years ago I found out that the star novaed. So…

VALERIE: That’s fucked up.

LISA: You’re lying.

DEATH: Hey, this isn’t rocket science.

GINA: See? It is the aliens.

DEATH: No, I was born in Manhattan.

GINA: Look you should know: Is there any truth in all this end of the world talk?

DEATH: (Taking out her hammer.) Who’s been talking like that? Are you talking about judgment day? This is judgment day. Bop. It’s over. We go.

GINA: Maybe it’s in your book. A day with  a really lot of names.

DEATH: I never look ahead.

GINA: Why not?

DEATH: I try not to take my job home with me.

GINA: Check out December 1999.

DEATH: Why then?

GINA: Well, that’s what everyone says.

DEATH: Who?

GINA: Don’t you read?

DEATH: But that’s a couple months away.

GINA: Yeah.

DEATH: This is a nightmare.

GINA: You’re telling me.

DEATH: No. You don’t understand. All these people. There are millions on this island. And I’m covering the Bronx till the end of next year.

GINA: You cover all of Manhattan and the Bronx?

DEATH: I’m union.

GINA: Maybe it’s time you renegotiate your contract. When was the last time you took a vacation?

DEATH: Oh that. I take one vacation and you never let me forget it. It was actually a sick day. Almost cost me my job. December. They can’t expect me to handle all these people. I’m calling a wildcat strike.

 Death dials her cell phone.

VALERIE: Who are you calling?

DEATH: My shop steward.

 Death hangs up the phone.

DEATH: Out of area.

 Death’s cell phone rings.

DEATH: My dispatcher.

VALERIE: Aren’t you going to pick it up?

DEATH: Not until I talk to my shop steward. (Death points to the mirror.) Give me a little more of that.

GINA: I don’t know.

DEATH: I can always go back to work.

 Gina chops and hands the mirror to Death. Death’s phone stops ringing. Lisa  yawns.

VALERIE: Let’s get out of here.

 As Lisa moves to the door she becomes more and more sluggish. Finally stopping just shy of the door.

LISA: You guys go. I’m beat.

GINA: We’re not leaving you here alone with her.

 Death is humming to herself.

VALERIE: Come on. While she’s mellow.

DEATH: You don’t have to worry about me.

VALERIE: Are you going to be all right?

DEATH: Don’t let me stop you. I’m not doing anything. I’m on strike.

VALERIE: (to Lisa) Are you sure?

LISA: Yeah, it’s been a hell of a night.

VALERIE: All right. Well, take it easy.

They exit, Lisa comes back into the room. Collapses on the couch.

LISA: This has been such a long day. I’m dead.

DEATH: That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. (Talking to herself) Maybe it’s all for the best.

I mean, once they’re gone, they’re gone. I can ship them all out and retire. But what do I have to show for it? I should have bought into that 401(K). I’m so stupid. I’m so stupid.  Death begins hitting her hammer on the table to accentuate the words. On the third `stupid’ she hits herself in the head with the hammer. 

DEATH: Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

 Death falls over. Dead.

LISA: Death? Death? Oh my god.

 The dispatcher knocks and enters.

LISA: Who are you?

DISPATCHER: Who are you?

LISA: Lisa Ashenden.

DISPATCHER  : Where the hell have you been? You were supposed have been uptown 45 minutes ago.

LISA: I was on my way. But-

DISPATCHER: Let me talk to Death.

LISA: Well, that’s the problem. You see, well, uh, she’s kind of .. dead.

DISPATCHER: She can’t do that. We have bodies piling up all over the tri-state area. We got a guy who was shot  in the Bronx. He’s lying in agony, He just won’t die. We have an overturned tractor-trailer on the FDR. We have a heart attack at JFK-

LISA: What do you want me to do about it?

DISPATCHER: Look, is her hammer still here?

LISA: Yes.

DISPATCHER: You’re going to have to cover her route.

LISA: But I don’t know anything about being Death.

DISPATCHER: You killed her, didn’t you?

LISA: Not exactly. She killed herself.

DISPATCHER: Even better. You got a knack.

LISA: But-

DISPATCHER: Consider yourself  hired. Grab the hammer and get over to 137th and University. After that I’ll need you to get yourself to JFK. There was an accident on a runway out there.

 Lisa picks up the hammer. She has a new job.

 

FINIS

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