One-Act Stage Play
In current time, the play is divided into sets: , a middle class apartment, a street and a threshold into the space beyond names which is only indicated by a door frame from which blinding light emanates.
(Dimmed lights reveal a middle class apartment bedroom. On the bed are the MAN and his wife, ANABELLE. It is too early in the morning. The room is silent for a while until the MAN moves wearily from his slumber. He moans indistinctly until finally…)
(The MAN wakes from his sleep, sweaty and huge-eyed. He grasps for air. His wife wakes up in the process.)
ANABELLE: (Still groggy from just being woken up) What’s wrong, honey?
MAN: (Almost a whisper) I can’t breathe.
ANABELLE: Just relax. The doctor said your blood pressure’s getting to you. Go back to sleep.
MAN: No. I really can’t breathe, Anabelle.
ANABELLE: (Turns away from the MAN) There’s water on the night stand.
(The MAN drinks from the glass of water. After awhile, he breathes easily.)
MAN: I had the dream again.
ANABELLE: (Groggy) It’s nothing. Just a dream. Go back to sleep… Please.
MAN: I can’t.
ANABELLE: (Slightly irate) Please, I have an early day tomorrow.
MAN: But the dream!
MAN: (Turns on the night lamp. Desperately) Please, Anabelle, I need to talk to somebody about this.
ANABELLE: (Fully awake now. In an agitated tone) Okay. Tell me ALL about it. What’s bothering you now?
MAN: (Noticing his wife’s annoyance) No. It’s alright. (Takes his coat from the stand by the door) I’ll just take a walk. (Opens the door)
ANABELLE Thank you. (Turns the night lamp off) Don’t wake me when you get in, honey.
(The MAN shakes his head. He exits.)
(ANABELLE gets up, and turns on the lights. She goes for the telephone on the nightstand and makes a call.)
(Lights open again to reveal a city street. A single hotdog STREET VENDOR has his cart parked beneath a street lamp. The STREET VENDOR is whistling to himself as the stage lights reveal him.)
(The MAN enters.)
MAN: Strange, you selling hotdogs this time of night.
STREET VENDOR: You never know when one of you night walkers might come out. You’ll be surprised to know how much sales I have at around this time in the morning.
MAN: Yeah, I’m not one to talk.
STREET VENDOR: So what’ll be?
MAN: (Grabs his wallet from his coat pocket) On a bun. Everything on it.
(The STREET VENDOR prepares the hotdog sandwich.)
Sorry, I know it’s none of your business but…
STREET VENDOR: No. It’s fine if you want to talk; keeps things light.
MAN: I… had a dream… I’ve been having it for a while now.
STREET VENDOR: A dream? (Hands out the sandwich)
MAN: Yeah. (Takes a bite of his sandwich) I wanted to tell my wife. But… But she needs her sleep, and I can’t be bothering her with my dreams since she’s doing all the working, and me just tending the house.
STREET VENDOR: Got no work?
MAN: No. Just housework. Chores. Groceries. Got fired recently.
STREET VENDOR: Oh, sorry to hear that.
MAN: No. It was a boring job anyway.
(The light from the lamp post flickers. The MAN and the STREET VENDOR stare up at it.)
You sure, you want to hear my dream.
STREET VENDOR: Sure, (Looks around) business isn’t exactly booming right now. (Laughs to himself)
MAN: Well…well… Lately… I’ve been dreaming. The same dream once or twice is fine but… this dream… Dreaming of being strapped to a cold bed… one of those metal things: a gurney. I remember being strapped because I remember having my head itch. Itch so much. And I can’t scratch it. However hard I tried, I could not scratch it.
That. That kind of itch that drives you mad. You want to scratch it. Scratch it so hard. (Suddenly manic) That kind of itch, you’d scratch until your skin tore and bled.
STREET VENDOR: As nightmares come and go, that’s not so bad.
MAN: It doesn’t end there. No. No. (Maniacally smiles to himself) Then, I hear a voice. A voice so familiar but also entirely distant: a voice that has no face. The voice looms from the darkness. And then I suddenly notice, in my dream I mean, that my eyes were being pricked by this strange light. A strange blue light.
(The light from the street lamp flickers once more. The STREET VENDOR suppresses a scream.)
Then. Then the voice comes, all calm and cold, “Don’t worry. I’ll scratch it for you, scratch it until it bleeds.” And then suddenly, suddenly a… a… scalpel slices from the darkness, a slash to my forehead.
(A violent flickering of the light from the street lamp. The STREET VENDOR steps back in fear of the MAN.)
(In hysterics) And it’s so painful. So terribly painful that I scream out. Scream out for dear help. Dear god, please help me! Please! O, anyone out there!
But no one comes. Every night. Every night, no one comes.
STREET VENDOR: (Makes an awkward comment) Sounds like a bad horror movie (Coughs, and loosens his collar.)
MAN: (Suddenly shouts out) It doesn’t feel like a horror movie when you… FEEL everything. The pain… the monster, they’re both real when you are really there!
STREET VENDOR: (Raises his arms in surrender) Sorry, man. You don’t have to shout.
MAN: (As if reliving the dream, he grabs the STREET VENDOR by the collar) Then the face comes. IT IS MINE. The voice. That cruel voice is MINE. Someone else is wearing my face, I think to myself but he says, “No. Someone else is living your life.” And then he takes something from the cut he made on my head.
“And this,” (Holds out air to the STREET VENDOR’s face) he says while holding. Holding something. Something that looked like nothing. He said while holding air, “This is something that you don’t need anymore. You won’t mind if I take it. Do you?”
And the dream ends. Just like that. Just like that every night.
(A short silence.)
(The MAN releases the STREET VENDOR.)
STREET VENDOR: I’m out of here.
MAN: Why? I thought you were making a fortune here.
STREET VENDOR: (Apparently lying) Looks like no one else is coming. (Prepares to leave) And it is getting late. Too late. So maybe I should be going home. Now.
MAN: Yeah? Thanks for the hotdog.
STREET VENDOR: Well, thanks for the story. Bye. (To himself) Weirdo. (Exits with his cart)
(The MAN shrugs and sits down on the pavement.)
(The WOMAN passes by the street. She is beautiful in her simplicity. She wears a white dress. Her entire effect is broken by a key which she holds in her mouth like a cigarette. The MAN stands up.)
(The WOMAN looks at him. They hold a pose. The WOMAN smiles at the MAN. She leaves.)
(To himself) Hi.
MAN: Looks like I’m throwing everybody off with my dreams.
(He sits down once more on the pavement.)
(The MAN opens a cigarette case from his coat pocket, and takes a cigarette out. He tries to light it.)
(JULIET, a girl no older than eighteen enters. She’s wearing a short skirt, and a white blouse: a school girl outfit. She shouts out just before the MAN can light his cigarette.)
JULIET: STOP MISTER!
MAN: (Poses with the flame of his lighter inches from his cigarette) What?
JULIET: (Pants) Stop. I said. Stop!
JULIET: That’s bad for you.
JULIET: Smoking, dum-dum. Smoking is bad for your health. (Moves closer, as if telling a secret) Smoking kills.
MAN: (Sarcastically) I never heard of that before.
JULIET: Well it does. Now, you know. So you should stop.
MAN: (Pretends to think) No.
(The MAN continues to light his cigarette but the girl stops him before he does. She heroically throws her body on the lighter, as if it was a grenade.)
(To himself) And, people call me weird.
JULIET: (While still lying on the ground) I told you to stop.
MAN: Fine. (Hides his cigarette case in his coat pocket)
MAN: What’s a young girl like you doing out alone anyway? It’s late. Aren’t your parents looking for you?
JULIET: No. I’m fine.
MAN: (Looks at JULIET from head to toe) Oh, that’s nice to know.
JULIET: Can I sit with you for a while, mister?
MAN: Sure. Sitting down is free.
(They sit in an awkward silence.)
Hi. (Extends her hand for a handshake) My name is Juliet. Juliet, like in the play. What’s your name?
MAN: (Shakes her hand. Thinks long and hard) You know what? I don’t exactly remember my name. Wait a minute… I. Don’t. Remember. (He stands and panics) I don’t remember my name!
JULIET: You sure? My name: Juliet. Juliet. I say it a lot of times to myself so I’m sure I’ll not forget. Juliet.
MAN: But. Me, I can’t remember. Fuck. (As the realization hits him) So that’s what he took. That’s what he took from my head.
(The MAN paces while biting the tip of his thumb.)
JULIET: What? Who? I’m sorry. I’m not very bright.
MAN: I. No. He. The I in my dream. He took…
JULIET: I can’t understand you.
MAN: He took my name!
JULIET: Your name?
MAN: Juliet, he took my name.
JULIET: But it was just a dream, wasn’t it?
MAN: Yes. But. Yes. But, it felt real. Maybe it wasn’t a dream at all (Sits down in defeat).
JULIET: Maybe. Well… in dreaming we never do know what’s real or not until we wake up, do we?
MAN: Yes. I guess so. But, I did wake up. Wait… My wife called me something.
JULIET: (Stands up and cheers the MAN on) That must be it. Try and remember won’t you. Go! Go!
MAN: Honey, she called me, Honey.
JULIET: (Raises her eyebrow) Honey? Well, that’s good enough. (Jumps up, and down) Hooray. That’s your name then. Hi Honey, I’m Juliet.
(JULIET offers her hand for another handshake but the MAN doesn’t accept. She constantly keeps her hand up.)
MAN: But. It doesn’t feel like me. I don’t feel like a (Disgusted) “Honey.”
JULIET: But, your wife called you Honey, didn’t she? So you must be Honey (Waves her hand).
MAN: But… That’s just not me.
JULIET: To be honest, (Makes the obvious joke) you don’t look like a “Honey.” (Chuckles) Okay. Then, I’ll just call you… I’ll just call you… Mister Man. That’s it. I’ll call you Mister Man.
JULIET: You got a better idea?
MAN: (Thinks but cannot think of anything) No.
JULIET: So, hello again, Mister Man. I’m Juliet (She extends her hand once more for a handshake)
MAN: (Takes the hand reluctantly) Hi, Juliet. I’m the man with no name.
Shouldn’t you be going home right now?
JULIET: No, I’m just fine here.
MAN: You don’t have any plans of going home tonight. Do you?
JULIET: (Bites her lower lip) None.
MAN: (Sighs) Come. I’ll take you to my place. It’s about four in the morning. My wife can make us some breakfast.
(It is early morning back in the apartment. This time the stage features the modest receiving room of the MAN and ANABELLE’s apartment. On it are a couch, and a low coffee table. A small portrait of ANABELLE and the MAN during their wedding day hangs on a wall. There are three exits from the scene: 1. to the kitchen, 2. to the hall, and 3. to the bedroom seen earlier in SCENE 1.)
(ANABELLE is frantically readying a suitcase while ANABELLE’S LOVER is anxiously standing watch by the door, looking out for the MAN’s return.)
ANABELLE’S LOVER: Quick! I think I hear him coming.
ANABELLE: Wait a minute will you! It’s not so easy stuffing your whole life in one suit case.
ANABELLE’S LOVER: Just…
ANABELLE This is not easy for me. Leaving this place. My life. (Refers to the portrait) Him.
ANABELLE’S LOVER: We already talked about this. (Walks toward ANABELLE) You said life with him was getting hard. Unbearable was the word you used. And, it was time to move on. (Kisses her on the cheek) Come on. You said you’ll move on with me.
ANABELLE: Okay. (Done packing by now) I’m done.
ANABELLE’S LOVER: Then let’s go.
ANABELLE: Wait. One last thing. (She takes a sticky note and places it on the portrait.)
(ANABELLE’S LOVER takes the suitcase, and rushes out to the hall. ANABELLE follows. She pauses by the door.)
I’m sorry. I did love you… whoever you are. (Closes the door)
(After a few seconds, the MAN and JULIET enter the receiving room.)
MAN: Make yourself comfortable.
Sure. (Smiles) I will. Thanks.
(JULIET sits down politely on the couch. Some of her underwear is seen, but unnoticed by the MAN.)
MAN: (To the bedroom exit) Anabelle, we have company.
(There is no answer.)
(To himself) Maybe she already went to work.
JULIET: Maybe. (Pause) Shouldn’t you check on some ID like a license or something?
JULIET: For your name, dum-dum.
MAN: O. (Absently) Right. I remember having something here… (Checks a drawer below the coffee table) A passport. (Produces it) It doesn’t have stamps. (Laughs) I haven’t been anywhere.
JULIET: Check for your name.
MAN: It’s right here… (Reads) It… doesn’t matter…
JULIET: What do you mean? You were so up-and-about it earlier.
MAN: It just isn’t me. (Throws the passport back down the drawer. Changes the topic) You want something to eat?
JULIET: Sure. I’m starving.
MAN: Me too. (Exits to the kitchen)
JULIET: Nice place you have here, Mister Man.
MAN: (From the kitchen) We really wanted a real home, you know? Anabelle, and me. We wanted a home on solid ground with a white picket fence around it.
JULIET: Yeah? (She takes off her bra without taking off her blouse.)
MAN: Yeah. We wanted kids. We wanted the life all young couples talked about. The life people lived in those romantic movies. To do whatever we wanted. Painting. Writing. Whatever.
But me, and Anabelle, we got old. We got old quick. (Enters with a glass of water for JULIET) We defined our lives in tiny little boxes. (Hands out the glass of water) Here, you must be parched.
JULIET: Thanks (Takes a gulp from her glass).
MAN” (Continues with his story) Yup. We got rid of our dreams and lived the real life. The life our parents wanted for us.
All we have are cans of tuna. Is that fine with you?
JULIET: I’m not picky.
MAN: Sorry. Anabelle did the kitchen work before. Now that I have to do all the cooking, all we have is canned food.
JULIET: (Smiles) It’s fine, Mister Man.
(The MAN exits back to the kitchen. We hear the beeps and whirs of a microwave machine.)
MAN: (From the kitchen) Sure. We were young, and dreamed big. But as they say, dreams die when you have to grow up.
(JULIET stands up, and removes her panties. She lies stretched on the couch.)
We start living up to ourselves.
(Enters with two bowls of tuna, and puts them down on the coffee table) And that’s the real honest-to-goodness love story. Shit huh?
JULIET: Mister. (Spreads her legs)
MAN: (Stunned) Fuck.
JULIET: That was thanks for sitting down with me.
MAN: (Taken aback) What!
JULIET: (Stands up) This is thanks for taking me in. (Flashes him her breasts)
JULIET: (Approaches him, and throws him on the couch) And this is… (Straddles him) …thanks for… (Kisses him) …just being you.
(A prolonged pose: the MAN with his eyes wide open while JULIET passionately kisses him.)
MAN: (Throws her off) Stop it.
JULIET: You want me to stop, Mister Man?
MAN: You’re young enough to be my daughter!
JULIET: It’s just sex. We’re not talking about a great start-crossed romance. Nothing to worry about.
MAN: Juliet, I’m married.
JULIET: She’s not here, is she?
MAN: But she will be, and I don’t think I can handle her seeing me with some eighteen-year-old girl.
JULIET: (Disappointed) Fine.
(JULIET closes her blouse.)
(The MAN goes to the marriage portrait to apologize to ANABELLE. He reads the note.)
(The MAN looks at JULIET, and throws her on the couch. They fuck.)
(In the middle of sex) Romeo!
JULIET: Faster, Romeo! Faster! Make me feel it!
MAN: (Perplexed) What are you saying?
JULIET: I’m coming! I’m coming, Romeo!
MAN: That’s not me…
(JULIET climaxes. She kisses the MAN. The man does not kiss back. JULIET starts gyrating once more.)
No. No, it’s fine. We don’t have to continue. Besides, I’m flaccid.
JULIET: But, I want to make you feel good, Romeo. Don’t you want to come inside me?
MAN: I am not Romeo. It’s not me. I don’t know who… what I am. Not anymore. I’m sorry. That’s enough.
(The MAN slips his penis off JULIET’s vagina, and dresses up.)
JULIET: No. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have used that name. It’s cheap. Damn cheap, when I think about it. I can call whatever you want.
MAN: No. I just don’t feel like it. Sorry, I got you into this.
(JULIET contracts her body into a ball, and cries. The MAN watches her.)
JULIET: Sorry… Mister. Romeo… He was my boyfriend. Juliet and her Romeo (Smiles in remembrance). My parents didn’t like him… so we ran away… like in a fairytale… like what they planned to do in the play… His name’s not really Romeo. I just called him that as… a pet name. Pretty cheap.
MAN: He left you? Is that why you were on the streets? You don’t have a home to go back to? (Sits beside JULIET)
JULIET: No. Well, not exactly. We tried to… have sex. Before you met me, we were in a hostel. One of those cheap student bargains hostels… We’re both eighteen so legally we could have done it. And, no one asks questions in places like those.
(JULIET smiles, and wipes a tear from her eye.)
We were laughing… laughing. We were drinking beer we bought from the 24 hour convenience store, and then one thing lead to another. I started kissing him. He started kissing back. Romeo asked if he could, and I just took it, and placed it in me… then blood flowed. A LOT OF BLOOD.
MAN: That’s not exactly… unique… during your first time.
JULIET: I told him that! I told him… I told him it was fine, and I hugged his butt closer to my groin so it’ll go in deeper. I was fine. I felt beautiful… while he was in me… I felt like I was flying… higher, soaring into the sky, careless, carefree… But then… more blood spewed out. It was like a fountain, a flood, a tsunami. It wasn’t just a simple tearing of the hymen. No.
His eyes, you should have seen them, wide open. Crying. He was crying. And it didn’t take long until the entire bed to was soaked with blood.
MAN: We shouldn’t have had sex…
JULIET: No. I wanted it. I wanted to feel someone so bad that it was fine, even if it was a stranger. I just wanted to prove that I could do it too. That I would have gladly died in his hands. (Pauses) I almost did.
I passed out. Two hours later, when I came to, he was… gone. Romeo was nowhere to be found. I called his cellphone, and there was no answer. I called his mom; he wasn’t home. His friends. Everyone we knew. He’s gone.
MAN: He’ll turn up after the shock.
JULIET: I don’t want him to! I want him gone! I want him…
MAN: (Cuts her off) …don’t worry, I was a kid once too.
JULIET: (Stops crying) Please, Mister Man. Mister Man with no name. I can call you anything you want me to. Please. I just want to feel something human. Romeo and Juliet… That’s overrated. (A pause) Just something human!
MAN: No. I’m sorry. I just don’t feel like a Honey or a Romeo or whatever was printed in that passport. Like I’m no one. I don’t even feel human anymore.
JULIET: Because you lost your name?
MAN: I guess so. I mean… You were just crying. A girl crying beside me. And, I didn’t even care. My wife just left me, and I don’t… I feel numb… and empty. Like I’m nothing. A void. Like I’m floating on air. Juliet, I don’t even know who I am anymore.
JULIET: But you remember everything? You remember high school, and Anabelle, and…
MAN: Yes, I remember as memories go. But it feels like memories from someone else’s life. Like remembering useless factoids from an encyclopedia.
(JULIET fixes herself up. She walks towards the doorway.)
(With her back to the MAN) Don’t worry. What’s that line again? (Turns back to the MAN) “What’s in a name?” Take care, Mister Man with no name.
MAN: Yes, I will. You too. Take care, Juliet.
(JULIET exits to the hall.)
(The MAN fixes himself up. He sits down on the couch, and lets out a deep sigh. He rests his face on his hands.)
(Back on the city street, the STREET VENDOR looks out from the wings. He enters wearily, and stops just as the street lamp flickers on, and off. The flickering stops. He sets his cart out.)
(The WOMAN enters. She is playing with the key like an airplane. The STREET VENDOR sighs at the sight of her.)
STREET VENDOR: (To himself) Never open in the early morning. Never until there’s sunlight. Never until there are NORMAL people.
STREET VENDOR: (Tentatively) Hello.
WOMAN: (Pointing down at the cart with the key) What are those?
STREET VENDOR: Hotdogs.
WOMAN: What are (has a hard time of saying the word) ho-t-do-gs?
STREET VENDOR: (Gulps) Food.
WOMAN: Oh…Okay. I’ll have…(Points into the cart) that… that, that, that, this, that, these, and those.
STREET VENDOR: Ten! Ten hotdogs?
WOMAN: Anything wrong? (Smiles)
STREET VENDOR: N-no. N-nothing.
(The STREET VENDOR prepares the ten hotdogs. The WOMAN does a headstand, and holds that position. The WOMAN’s dress flows over her face. She is wearing men’s briefs.)
(Sighs) Faster. Faster. Faster. (Prepares the hotdogs faster)
WOMAN: (While on her head) Anything wrong?
STREET VENDOR: Nothing.
(ANABELLE and her ANABELLE’S LOVER pass by in the background. They carry with them their suitcase.)
ANABELLE’S LOVER: Faster. He might still be out.
WOMAN: Okay. Okay.
(ANABELLE and ANABELLE’S LOVER exit.)
(The WOMAN does a perfect cartwheel.)
WOMAN: I wonder where they’re going in such a hurry.
STREET VENDOR: (Just finished with the WOMAN’s order) That will be two-fifty, ma’am.
WOMAN: Two fifties? That’s a hundred.
STREET VENDOR: No. Two-fifty.
STREET VENDOR: Two! Fif! Ty!
WOMAN: Two-fifty what?
STREET VENDOR: Money!
WOMAN: What’s money?
STREET VENDOR: Oh my God. Just take them with you. (Hands out all the hotdogs to the WOMAN. Readies his cart and starts to leave) Never again. Never at night. Never. Maybe I can work in a McDonald’s… (Exits)
WOMAN: That was rude.
(The WOMAN takes all the hotdogs from their buns, and starts juggling them. She then stops, and throws them one by one at the street lamp.)
JULIET: What are you doing?
WOMAN: I don’t know. But it’s fun.
WOMAN: Yes. Want to try?
JULIET: Sure. (Picks up a hotdog, and throws it at the lamp post. Laughs) Fuck you, Romeo!
Thanks. (Starts to leave)
WOMAN: Where are you going?
WOMAN: And, what’s that?
JULIET: A place where I’m not welcome but I belong to. Goodbye… Sorry. I didn’t get your name.
JULIET: (Smiles to herself) You remind me of someone. Goodbye. Miss Woman with no name.
(The MAN enters a space with no spatial indication: a bare stage. He is older now with his hair grey, and the lines on his face deeper. A spot light hits him from above.)
MAN: (To the audience) So the story started. And ended really… At least until now. Let’s see. (Thinks)
I’m currently jobless.
And, have been alone ever since. Anabelle left me, and never came back. Not a visit. Not a call. She, and everything we had before just vanished with a note saying, “Please remember.”
I felt numb. Empty. Hollow. Like that me from my dream took everything away. Everything important.
(Embarrassed) To tell you the truth, I did try out a name once. Just something to get on. I called myself Tom… for a job, and a credit card, and stuff like those. But that didn’t end so well. Whenever someone called me, “Tom,” I wouldn’t respond. I couldn’t. How could I? I’m just not a Tom.
So I just kept to myself. Didn’t eat much so I lived without any steady income. (Shrugs) How could I eat when there’s nothing really to feed?
(The WOMAN enters. She is still dressed as she was before. A spot light also hits her from above. She holds the key in her hand.)
MAN: Hi. You’re that woman from before aren’t you? The woman who smiled. Just stood there and smiled.
MAN: What’s your name?
WOMAN: I don’t have one.
MAN: Just like me?
WOMAN: Exactly like you.
MAN: You know who I am?
MAN: Then who am I?
WOMAN: You’re you.
MAN: No. I mean, I already know that. What I mean is “what is my real name?”
WOMAN: I don’t know. You don’t need it, really.
MAN: I don’t?
WOMAN: All you need to know is that you’re you, and I’m me.
MAN: We’re both weird.
WOMAN: No. Not if we don’t have names. For them, we’re non-entities. How can something that doesn’t exist be weird?
MAN: What do we do now?
WOMAN: Whatever we want.
(The WOMAN smiles. A pause.)
WOMAN: I’m here to fetch you. (Raises the key)
(A doorway on up-centre is lit from behind. The edges of the light must be indicative of a doorway. The light is blinding.)
MAN: Where are we going?
WOMAN: Where ever we want.
MAN: What about “who you are” and “who I am”. We’re complete strangers.
WOMAN: That doesn’t matter. (Extends her hand) Come.
(The MAN looks at the WOMAN, the hold a pose.)
We don’t need names. From now on, we can call everything whatever we want. You and me, we can do anything. Everything.
MAN: Yes. From now on we can be more than our names.
(The WOMAN and the MAN meet at centre. They hold hands. The spot-lights above each of them fade as they reach the light from the doorway. They exit up as silhouettes.)
(The light from the door fades out. )