Martha Patterson, 5/12/2014

Current Occupation:  Freelance writer
Former Occupation:   Publishing sales associate
Contact Information: Martha Patterson has been published in anthologies by the International Centre for Women Playwrights and collections by JAC Publishing and Original Works Publishing. Her work has been produced Off-Off-Broadway (the Harold Clurman Theatre and Creative Place Theatre), in Norway (Belarusian Dream Theatre), Korea, and Australia (Short+Sweet Festival, Sydney), and in twelve US states (Barrington Stage, Mass.; Paw Paw Village Players, Michigan; Changing Scene Theatre Northwest, Washington state, among others). She earned her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from Emerson College, both degrees in Theatre. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the International Centre for Women Playwrights.  She lives in Boston, Mass., USA.

 

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THAT’S LIFE!

A Short Play
                
            

                CAST OF CHARACTERS

SIMONE      50s-60s, an editor, a New Yorker

VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER    An adult of any age, male or female, does not appear onstage

 

 

SCENE:                    A publishing office in Manhattan

TIME:                        The present

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS:  Simone, an editor at a publishing company in New York City, is on a deadline and gets two irritating phone calls at work.

 

 

 

AT RISE:  SIMONE, an editor at a publishing company in New York City, is sitting at her desk with paper stacked all around and a computer in front her.

SIMONE  (To herself.)
Sheesh.  I’m on deadline and this manuscript has to be corrected by Friday.  How will I
ever finish?  You know what editing is?  Keeping authors on schedule.  Mostly, that’s
what it is.  They get the book to you three months late and then you’ve got two weeks to
clean it up.  A nightmare.  …Sometimes I miss the old days.  My youth.  Or should I call
it, “How to screw up your life” ?  Get married to a bum who has a so-called career in the
“thea-tah,” have a kid, leave all the good times behind…  Thank God for that degree in \
English.  Able to work my way up from being a secretary for so long.  Editing.  If only it
weren’t for these damned deadlines.  Like navigating the Holland Tunnel in heavy
traffic.  

(The phone rings and she answers it.)

Barnard & Collins-New York, Simone speaking…..Bill!  You know, I was just thinking
about you and this manuscript.  I mean, it’s full of typos and can’t you just read it
through, at least once, before sending it off to me?  I mean, really!  It’s the final draft!  
…No, not “up your ass,” – I said, “It’s the final draft.”  Can you hear me now?  …Sorry,
it’s a bad connection.  Can’t make your voice out too well, either…  Your granddaughter
had twins?  Well, that’s very nice, really wonderful, but I don’t see why that makes any
difference about the book…  She’s still in the hospital?  …Internal bleeding.  Sheesh.
Sounds bad.  No, I didn’t say, “I’m glad.”  I said, “Sounds BAD.”  …I’m sorry.  …Well,
I just want you to know you don’t need to worry about the book.  It’s coming along
nicely.  …Yes, and I’m glad you called.  Hope your daughter gets well soon. …Bye.

(She hangs up.)

And that’s another thing – I get to hear all about my authors’ sordid little lives.  I’m
sorry about his daughter, but Jee-sus.  Can’t a woman have a little peace?  …Aw, crap.  I
guess I’m just having a bad day.

(She kicks her wastebasket and it falls over, spilling paper.)

Ouch.  My foot.

(She takes off her shoe and rubs her foot.  The phone rings again.  She answers it.)

…WHO?  WHO is it?  …..Well, my God, I hardly know what to say.  Lincoln?  Is that you?…..

    (To herself.)

Schmuck.

    (Back on the phone.)

Yes, I KNOW the line is breaking up.  It’s been doing that all day.  But WHY are you calling after 20 years?  

    (To herself.)

Dickhead.

    (Back on phone.)

Look, I really can’t talk.  This office doesn’t like personal calls on company time.  …No, I don’t have that much authority.  I can’t tell them to go fuck themselves  …Look, Lincoln, don’t even bother apologizing after all these years.  I KNOW I hated you!  …..I KNOW you must have been afraid I would never forgive you…..  I KNOW you were a shit.  …..Yes, yes…..I KNOW.  …..You’ve what?  Produced a new play in community theatre in Westchester?  

    (Sarcastically.)

…..Well, isn’t that just like you, to do so WELL in your career!  …..It’s a domestic comedy?  How fitting!  …It’s what?  Sort of Neil Simon-ish?  …..Sorry, I can’t relate.  My life never was a comedy.  I’m an editor now…  An EDITOR!!  Can’t you hear me?  …You say what?  …Listen, I’m on a deadline.  I really can’t stay on the phone —

    (A voice comes over the Intercom.)

                VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER
This is an announcement for all employees.  We will have a test of our fire alarm system this afternoon at three o’clock.  Do not respond.  I repeat, DO NOT RESPOND.  It is only a test.  Thank you.

                SIMONE  (Still on the phone.)
…..I’m sorry, it was just a company announcement.  …..Yes, Lincoln, I know the connection is bad.  …..Are you on a cell phone?  Because even our landlines suck today…  You can drop by my place tonight?    …..How thoughtful of you.  I’ll make martinis and we can have a gas catching up.  …..Yes, it’s the buzzer that says “Andrews.”  I took back my maiden name.  …..Why?  …Well, Lincoln I just thought it MADE SENSE, is all.  “Andrews.”  Doesn’t it have a better ring than “Buckmaster?”  …..Yes, YOUR name, Buckmaster.  Rhymes with “fuckmaster.”  

    (The VOICE comes over the loudspeaker again.)

                VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER
Attention.  Please do not call Human Resources about the test of our alarm system today.  They are swamped.  Please do not call Human Resources.  Thank you.

                SIMONE  (Back on the phone.)
Never mind, it’s just a staff announcement.  …How did you get my number anyway?  …Oh, Sarah.  My old best friend.  Who never liked you in the first place.  …Sorry, but it’s true.  She thought you were dog-do.  …..You can’t hear me?  I’m not surprised.  I’m only YELLING into the phone, Lincoln!  And I REALLY CAN’T TALK RIGHT NOW!  ..Okay, okay.  Come over tonight.  I’ll pick up some snacks at Zabar’s.  Maybe we can talk about our SON.  Who seems to be well on his way to being a Conservative army-loving nut!  …..Gotcha.  …..Yes, I HEARD you.  See you at eight.

(Hangs up.)  

God, I should just slit my wrists!  I mean, I’m just about to drop DEAD!  Why did he call after 20 years?  Sleazeball!  Four affairs in a decade of marriage!  And the thing about it was, I don’t know if I ever really loved him!  HIM, a would-be producer!  He never really made it.  If only I hadn’t married him!  Why ever did I make such a mistake?

    (Laughs to herself.)

Community theatre?  What a reaping of rewards!  Just what I would have expected of him!  …And then there’s Rupert, who’s run off to join the Army.  THE ARMY!  

    (Claps her hand to her forehead.)

I mean, where did I go wrong?  I’ve never been a warmonger!  Neither was Lincoln, for that matter.  We were Liberals with a capital “L.”  Why did my son have to join the ARMY???

            VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER
Attention.  Will all employees please refrain from taking personal calls while on the job.  There have been a number of complaints.  And our phones are dysfunctional today.  If you must talk to a family member, please keep it brief.  Thank you.

                SIMONE
    (Picks up wastebasket and stuffs the spilled paper back into it.)

Dysfunctional!  Like my life.  Shit!  And for this I get paid!

                    THE END 

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