a short play for three actors (2 male, 1 female)
"After you eat your steak we can play games"
by K. Brian Neel
January 2, 2009
Imaginary Mom (I.M.)
Slug (also imaginary)
Setting: a decrepit, one-room shack. Night.
A soldier, Jess, enters from battle, war torn. He scopes the place. It's secure.
Settling on a mound of rag-blanket-crap, he catches his breath, then announces to the air:
JESS: I'm gonna sleep now!
He lays down, pulls the covers.
A woman submerged in the crap rises. Startled, Jess jumps away.
JESS: Mom! Jesus.
IM: Remember your third commandment, son.
JESS: I must be in bad shape.
IM: So skinny. Did you forget to eat again.
She pulls out a package in white butcher's paper, extends it to him.
IM: I'll take care of you, my little baby. Here's some steak for you. Eat it.
A man appears out of nowhere.
SLUG: What in anus intrusion is going on here, Soldier?
IM: You kiss your mother with that?
SLUG: Ain't kissin' you, lady. Are we secure? Check the flanks? (Jess nods yes) Soldier, you gotta get back out there and get your gun back.
JESS: It's not safe.
IM: There's nothing wrong with being a coward, son.
SLUG: Shut up, lady. You live here?
SLUG: (to Jess) What?
JESS: She's my mother.
SLUG: What's your mother doing in this war-torn, bum-fuck hell hole?
JESS: She's not really mom.
IM: Your vivid imagination is dangerous to yourself and others, son.
SLUG: I thought I was your special crazy?
IM: What was the name of that latino boy I caught you playing doctor with in eighth grade?
JESS: Mom! I've never seen her before.
IM: Alberto! When I walked in on you, you were holding his...!
SLUG: You never seen you ma?
JESS: I've never seen this her before.
IM: Just like when you were my baby—the visions. And tantrums! It was not easy for me. He wouldn't drink from my breasts.
SLUG: You gotta get back out there, soldier. Commander's gonna fist a sphincter.
IM: There's that homosexuality again. I'll make it all better, son. Eat some of this. It's grade-A American meat.
JESS: (Thwarts her gesture.) Ma!?
IM: Just trying to help.
SLUG: You left your 16 in the village!?
JESS: I gave it to that woman. She didn't understand, but at least now they know we're coming. I mean, they're coming. And they have at least one gun now.
SLUG: You loadin' any other kill-sticks?
He makes a gun-shape with his hands, pointing at Slug.
SLUG: Woah there cowboy, let's point that in a safer direction.
IM: Son, you shouldn't play with guns.
JESS: I'm in the army, Mom.
SLUG: Get back out there, soldier.
JESS: I can't go back.
IM: You're a coward, son. Nothing wrong with that.
SLUG: Imaginary Mom, why don't you sit over here and shut the fuck up while we figure out how to make you disappear. (to Jess) She's gonna disappear once we're back on the front line, right?
JESS: This is the front line. The 49th are coming strait down on top of us.
IM: Hide in the blanket, son. Like a baby.
SLUG: Lady, you are a figment of his negativity, the cause of his fucked up hallucinations, the reason he's here in this fucking cesspool in the first place; and I'm the mother fucker who's gonna whup you ass up-n-out-o-his-head.
IM: You are a mean-spirited, foul-mouthed hooligan.
SLUG: You're a bad memory, lady.
IM: I raised him!
IM: I love him! (Handing Jess the meat)
SLUG: He love himself, right my man?
JESS: I... love... you both. I guess.
SLUG: Don't encourage us—fuck that. Go to the villagers again.
JESS: They'll kill me. It's either my platoon shoots me for desertion, or the villagers lynch me. Which do you recommend?
SLUG: We can't low-hang here, man. It's like a barrel and you're the fish.
JESS: Shut up. (He conceptualizes.) Alright. These blankets are the cliffs. This is the ravine. Imaginary Mom, you are the villagers: here. You (Slug) are the fighting 49th, here. and I'm here in the middle.
SLUG: Let me get this strait: (Pointing to what they represent.) Barrel (blankets). Fish (Jess). Shooter (Himself). Water (IM). You're fucked.
JESS: (To Slug) You're gonna come down the ravine from this end with artillery.
Slug makes arm gestures as if holding: M-16s, artillery, grenades.
JESS: The Villagers are hopefully aware you're coming. They're preparing, taking cover....
IM makes arm gestures as if barricading, holding rifle.
JESS: I take cover...
Slug and IM battle with gestures—shooting, dying, shielding, throwing grenades, dying over and over (playing multiple people). It's like a game of Load, Load, Shoot, Bomb—fast, not in slow motion. In silence.
Jess, in the middle, at times hides, barricading himself in the blankets, at times "shoots" from his pistol at one side and then "shoots" at the other. Eventually, Slug and IM are so wrapped up in their battling each other, they ignore Jess.
Jess is now alone. He takes the package, opens it to find it's not steak, but a real pistol.
He puts the barrel of the gun in his mouth.
He closes his eyes, gathering the nerve to pull the trigger.
He opens his eyes, relaxing.
He takes the gun out of his mouth and shoots Slug and IM: BANG! BANG!
Slug and IM stop their battle and look at Jess. (Not shot, of course.)
There is a pounding at the door!
Copyright © K. Brian Neel. All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted in newspaper, magazine, radio or television reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.Professional and amateurs are hereby warned that this material, being fully protected under the Copyright Laws of the United States of America and of all other countries of the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions, is subject to a royalty. All rights including, but not limited to, professional, amateur, recording, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcasting, and the rights of translation into foreign languages are expressly reserved. Particular emphasis is placed on the question of readings and all uses of this play by educational institutions, permission for which must be secured from the authorá║s representatives. For all rights, including amateur and stock performances, contact K. Brian Neel.