THE BOWL OF WALNUTS

By Peter Obourn

A very short two voice play

Players:

SAM: Elderly man

MURIEL: His daughter

Scene: Bedroom/kitchenette apartment at Sunset Acres. He enters, opens tabletop refrigerator and stares inside.

SAM

Let’s see: pickles, crackers, ketchup. All set. (closes refrigerator, picks up a bowl of walnuts with a nutcracker and sits, focused on the bowl in his lap or on a table. He cracks one) Sam’s soliloquy to Morrie

(she enters from rear)

MURIEL

Hi, Dad

SAM

Oh, hi, Kitten. Have a nut. They were Morrie’s.

MURIEL

No thanks. So, did you watch the game?

SAM

Yeah, boring. You don’t want to hear about it—mostly commercials now—beer and Viagra— ‘call your Doctor if you have an erection that lasts four hours.’—big game next week—Thanksgiving

MURIEL

Dad, don’t talk like that

SAM

What—About erections? I had one once that lasted four years, when I was a teenager. Those senior girls—goddesses—so much older, like two years, but out of reach. Well, that’s all over now. I don’t even look at the nurses. To them I’m invisible. (pauses) Today, in the park, the pigeons were looking at me again.

MURIEL

That’s nice.

SAM

You know how I hate it when they stare at me.

MURIEL

Let’s not be like that today, Dad. I’m tired. So, how is your buddy Morrie?

SAM

Dead

MURIEL

What?

SAM

Morrie died—last week

MURIEL

I’m sorry.

SAM

Don’t be. I guess I forgot to tell you. People always apologize when someone dies. For what, I don’t know. But we don’t do that here anymore. It’s like a release. Most days he didn’t know who I was. I’m not sure he knew who he was. Now we say, ‘good for him’

MURIEL

That’s terrible

SAM

It’s not terrible – just the truth. So, talk to me. Tell me somethin’ I don’t already know

MURIEL

You know, Dad, it’s like you always said—being a parent just gets harder, not easier I just talked to her. She’s in love. It’s going to be a nightmare.

SAM

That’s great. Now tell me about my little sweetheart.

MURIEL

Dad, that’s who I’m talking about. Your granddaughter.

SAM

(laughs) What is he? Some little boy scout on her little league team.

MURIEL

She’s not in little league anymore, Dad; she’s in college. Remember? I just don’t want her to be crushed. She’s completely gaga. She doesn’t care if he’s lying, if he’s too old – blah blah blah – doesn’t care if it doesn’t last. I don’t believe any of it. I don’t believe any of the stuff he’s told her. ‘Mom, I don’t care if he loves me as long as he let’s me love him’, she says. What am I going to do?

SAM

I know how to find out.

MURIEL

How?

SAM

Like we did in the war. Round up the suspects, all in the same room. You take the bravest one and ask him a question he won’t answer, then – ‘BLAM!’ – shoot him right between the eyes. Make his head explode. Then you get the truth out of the rest of ‘em.

MURIEL

You never did anything like that.

SAM

Well, I seen it.

MURIEL

You saw it? It sounds more to me like one of Morrie’s crazy stories. Please don’t get like him. Remember her Barbie dolls?

SAM

Well, maybe I never seen it, but I heard about it. It’s true, you know

MURIEL

Remember once, she put a beard on the Ken doll—stuck cotton on his face—so he was older like. We couldn’t get it off

SAM

I liked the Barbie dolls. Wasn’t that Christmas?

MURIEL

Don’t you see?

SAM

What I see is people looking at me. I see Santa Claus. You see what’s not there. I see monsters. There’s a monster inside of everybody.

MURIEL

He’s not a monster. He’s a teacher—her professor—probably a nice man.

SAM

I thought you said he was a liar.

MURIEL

I said I don’t believe him. She’s going to be disappointed.

SAM

He’s a monster—even if he doesn’t know it. He wants one thing.

MURIEL

OK, Dad, I got to go. I’ll come pick you up for Thanksgiving. I’ll pick you up Wednesday night.

SAM

Nah, I’ve decided to stay here this year—going to be a party. I’m having a cocktail party right here in my room. They let some of us have wine that day. Otherwise, on holidays, people die from the loneliness of it all. I got it planned. I put pickles on little crackers—one on each cracker. And a little dish of ketchup—you know—as a dip. It’s fancy.

She says it’s too bad Morrie’s gone but he wouldn’t be invited anyway. All the guests are women

MURIEL

Dad, she’ll be there. She’s bringing the professor home with her. God, I suppose I’ll have to let them sleep in her room. It’s disgusting.

SAM

I suppose that imbecile Arthur will be there too.

MURIEL

He might be. Dad, I’m entitled to a life, aren’t I?

SAM

You could do better than Arthur.

MURIEL

Arthur’s cooking the turkey.

SAM

I knew he was a fag.

MURIEL

I need you there, Dad.

She reminds him he was a teacher once he has an obligation. Mom’s gone

SAM

Alright, dang it all, I’ll be there. I’ll bring my hors d’oeuvres. And I just got an idea. Make sure Ken is propped on her bed with his beard on. Morrie had some Viagra stashed. He was a dreamer. I’ll get some and hand it to the professor. How’s that?

MURIEL

(laughs) Okay, Dad, enough. Just serve your pickles and crackers. Together with Arthur’s turkey, that should do it.

SAM

Wait. Wait. This is even better. (puts a walnut into his nutcracker) At the table during dinner I’ll get up to make a toast and I’ll pick up the Ken doll and shoot him—right between the eyes—make his head explode. (He cracks the walnut violently and it explodes)

MURIEL

You know, Dad. That just might work. (She kisses him on top of the head and leaves as he picks up the pieces and eats them)

 

– end –