Two Men In A Canoe

TWO MEN IN A CANOE

One Act Play

This is a One Act play with four characters (so far).  It has one simple set.  Estimated time is thirty minutes.

The Characters:

          Lorraine              A woman in her forties

          Bud                      Her husband, same age

          Claire                    Their teen-age daughter

Martha                Bud’s mother, a woman in her sixties

The set: A kitchen with stove and refrigerator. The table is in front of a large window which looks onto an open porch where the characters are first seen by those in the kitchen. The door is in the same back wall.

The time: morning

          [At rise, Lorraine is making a pot of coffee.  “You want eggs this morning,” she asks an empty stage. She looks across the kitchen to the doorway “Bud,” she says. He enters looking down into the morning paper. He stops.   If it is possible his face goes white. He says “Oh no”]

LORAINE

[Seeing something is terribly wrong]  What?

BUD

[he doesn’t answer as he continues to read, slowly sitting down at the kitchen table It is like he is having a fainting spell]

LORAINE

Bud. What?  [She sits across the table from him.]  Bud?

BUD

          God is dead.

LORAINE

          God is dead?

BUD

          Right here, says right here. It says….[Bud’s mouth quivers. He takes a breath.] Two men…two men in a canoe saw it all. …. up there back home… the boundary waters: A big splash: dropped right out of the sky. Says here they thought it was a meteor. But then all these harps and halos come up.

LORAINE

          Harps and Halos.

BUD

          Even saw Him….even saw Him. Water’s so clear up there, big white bearded man down in the bottom of the lake. He’s …..he’s dead alright. Pictures on page eight. [The paper rattles as he turns the paper. At the page, he smooth it out. LORAINE gets up and to look over this shoulder.]

LORAINE

[She has her hand to her chest..]   Oh no. No, no…It doesn’t make sense. Bud, God is suppose to be forever. What’s he doing in a lake? …harps and halos….I can’t even look at his [Lorraine backs away] What we going to do? He’s supposed to be forever. And… and he’s suppose to take care of us, watch, like, like we don’t starve, get sick, I mean he’s suppose to be there…What are we going to do?

BUD

Do? Do? What can we do? Do? There’s nothing we can do.

LORRAINE

 [She stares at the headlines again.] But we have to, Bud we have to. We’re going to keep on living, aren’t we?

                                               BUD

I didn’t think of that. [He feels his shoulders and chest to see if he is still alive.] Yeah, we’re still alive.  But it won’t be the same. We have to be ready. That’s what. People’ll get to do what they want: steal, lie even kill.  Lorrie, even kill. And Lorrie: There’s going to be wars now. You know that. People are going to killing each other for whatever they want, even if you don’t think the same as they do, anything. There’s no God to say no. Not anymore. Oh yeah, I know. We got to be ready. [He stands up and looks around for a weapon. He sees the broom and picks that up, he looks at it and it’s not to his liking, puts it down and goes to the drawer and pulls out a knife. He looks at the knife and it isn’t big enough. He puts it down. And looks around but sees nothing for a weapon]    

LORAINE

No Bud, no. Kill, Bud? Kill? No. And look, [She looks out the window for him to look out.] Nobody’s done anything yet.

BUD

          [He looks out.]  Right. You’re right. I mean who reads the Ely weekly? Couldn’t be too many that know yet.  But once it hits the rest, goes on television, it won’t be long. Then the killing and stealing will start. Oh yeah, that’s for sure. I better go lock up the garage. I got that brand new saws-all out there. They’ll come looking for that and everything else they can take.

LORAINE

          [She looks this way and that and then down at her wedding rings] You think it’ll be safe to wear these? [She starts to pull them off and stops] But I don’t understand. How can it all change? Why should it?

BUD

          Why? Why? Because God’s dead.. I mean look, look there. It’s in the paper. We’re on our own now. Okay…yeah, I know what you mean. Not right away. That’s right. Not right away. People aren’t going to catch on right away… Everything will seem the same, you know. That’s how it’ll be.  But we have to take precautions. Gets some better locks for the house, bring in the saws-all. I mean you might think, you know, nothing’s going to change; but slowly people are going to think, you know, they’ll think. No God, oh yeah, I can do what I want now.

          [the sound of footsteps on the wood porch. LORRAINElooks to the window.]

LORRAINE

          Oh, oh you should be thinking of your mother: She’s coming now. What is she going to say?

BUD

Mom? Oh, oh ….we got to hide that paper. Quick, quick quick hide it. [He goes to the table, gathers up the paper, folds it and folds it again…looks for a place to hide it.]

          [Martha enters]

MARTHA

          Is that the paper?

BUD

          No mom, we didn’t get a paper this week. Must have got lost in the mail. This is last weeks.

MARTHA

          Awful, that awful; it’s the second time now. Second time in a month, Buddy. Give me that paper. I’m going to get their address. See what’s going on up there…give…give it to me. I can see it’s the Ely Weekly  [she takes the paper from his hand and opens it]

Well, Buddy, Buddy this is this weeks. the date is right…Oh, oh what is this…two men in a canoe.  Two men in a canoe….what [reads on. Bud and Lorraine look at one another.]  Buddy did you see this? Did you see it: I have to sit down.

LORRAINE

          [She hurries a chair for Martha to sit] We didn’t know if you should see it.  It’s such a shock: we didn’t know if…

MARTHA

          Pictures on page eight. I don’t know if I can look. And I was just in the Church. I was there planning the picnic.  Oh look, harps and halos…harps and halos…and that beard floating up like a stack of silk. [She turns her head to the side.] No …I can’t look.  I can’t.  Buddy, why did you let me see this?

BUD

          I tried…but, mom you would have found out anyway. We all get the weekly. Everybody’s going to know.

MARTHA

          [To herself  at first] And I was just in church. [She stares with wide eyes] It did feel empty. Yes, now that I think of it, there was something hollow when we come upstairs. We were planning  the picnic. The picnic, oh no, what we going to do now? [Sje sways and Bud puts his hands on her shoulders.]

LORRAINE

          I’ll get a glass of water, a cold wash cloth.  [She goes the sink and gets both. There is a pause as she does these. She goes to Martha and stops as the old lady speaks.]

MARTHA

          All my good works. All those years, going to church, praying and doing good, and now for what?  For what?

LORRAINE

          [She set down the water and cloth] The colors coming back to her face. She’s okay.

MARTHA

          …and ….and now I’ve been driving old Angus Bitterman to the doctor being that good person. Every Wednesday she has to go. I help her out of the house,  help her in the car, put the walker in the trunk, drive the twenty miles, get the walker out of the truck, help her out of the car, open the doctor’s door, and wait. Wait and all he’s got is those hard wooden chairs. And now, look.  For what?  I’m not going to get rewarded, not anymore. It was all a waste.

BUD

          No, no mom, that kind of stuff doesn’t matter anymore. We got to stay calm. I’m staying calm. You see mom. We’re going to handle it. We just got to be ready that’s what. Keep the doors locked, make sure ….

MARTHA

          Today’s her doctor’s appointment. But what do I do now? God won’t be looking. What do I do now?  [a pause]  She tried to pay me and I said no. No, no, that’s what one person does for the other, I tell her. But what do I do now?

LORRAINE

          You should just go get her, take her to the doctor like nothing happened.

BUD

Right, just carry on like nothing happened. I know what you mean. But things are going to change, not at first maybe but once people start thinking, you know, that’s God’s down in the lake, we got to be ready. [He looks to the window.] Here comes Claire. You think she’s heard?

LORRAINE

          Oh no, she’s with that Arnt boy. Has him right up to our porch now.  Oh and they’re both laughing like they get along so good.

MARTHA

          The Arnt’s, you’re not letting her go out with any of them, are you?

LORRAINE

          Of course not.  You don’t think I’d have her with one of them. People like us don’t mix with that sort. So she says she just happened to bump into him at the store or something. And so they were walking that same way. She even calls him by his first name. And would you believe it:  after all I said, she turns as asks if we can invite him to the church picnic. Can you imagine that? An Arnt?

BUD

          [looking out the window] Here we go again. Old man Bruski’s putting out parking cones. He thinks he owns the alley. We’ll see about that. We’ll see.

LORRAINE

          Bud, we don’t need anymore trouble. You two nearly started swing at each other. Claire and that boy…and this, isn’t this enough. [She picks up the paper.]

BUD

          That’s right. Give me that. I’ll bet he doesn’t know. There’s no God anymore. It’ll change things. [he takes the paper and goes to the door as CLAIRE enters. “You hear the news,” she asks as they meet at the door.it’s okay,honey, don’t worry” he says to her as he passes her. “it’ll be okay.” And he exits]

[CLAIRE ENTERS and she has the paper in her hand]]

CLAIRE

          You hear the news? Did you? Two men in a canoe…

LORRAINE

          Of course we did.

CLAIRE

          Powerfull, huh.  That was powerfull.

LORRAINE

          Powerfull?

CLAIRE

          There was pictures too. You see the pictures? I bet those two guys were surprised. Just think how big that splash must have been.

LORRAINE

          Claire, that was God for God’s sake.

CLAIRE

          I know. That’s what makes it so big. But…mom, you think they’ll still have the picnic?

MARTHA

          The picnic, oh that’s right; the picnic

LORRAINE

          Oh, I don’t know. God is dead now so…well why would there be church anymore.

MARTHA

          Well there has to be. There has to be. I’ve been going all these years. How can we stop? And the picnic, well…well, I’ve already made potato salad.

LORRAINE

          I suppose grandma is right. We have to go on. We do. It’s just going to change. [She looks out the window and is silent for moment] There’s your dad out there still talking to Mr. Bruski. Oh my gosh; they’re shaking hands. I guess we’re on our own now. We are. And…and you know  Claire…well why don’t you invite the Arnt boy after all. I mean with no God, nobody is any better than anybody else.

MARTHA

          Well, I suppose that would be wouldn’t it.

CLAIRE

          I can invite Joe? I can. Oh mom, that’s wonderful. I do like him so much. Mom, this is wonderful [She hugs her mother and then her grandmother, turns and exit.]

                                          End