The Christmas Burglar
Lights up. We see a dark living room with a Christmas tree, and a small fireplace with a few stockings. The floor is covered with a large rug and some toys; there is a door with a wreath in the middle of the background, and some windows. Outside there is a snowy street with a lone lamp. On the left, at the very edge of the room is a small kitchen, with an oven and a fridge and a counter. On the counter is a plate of cookies. Downstage centre is a TV and a couch. To the right is a small table. On the walls are pictures of a small girl, a calendar, and some embroidered pieces. The doorknob jiggles, first gently, then more and more violently. A small click is heard, then the door quietly swings open. Enter BURGLAR. He shines a flashlight about, then clicks it off. Some snow blows through the door, and he shuts it. He turns the flashlight back on, and sets it down on the table. He wears a threadbare brown jumper and patched green trousers. He holds a large brown sack with him. He shakes out the sack then grabs the flashlight once more. He begins to stuff the toys and things into his sack. All of a sudden, his flashlight beams down on the cookies.
BURGLAR: Food! (He begins to gorge himself on the cookies. ) Mmmmmm. Butterscotch: interesting… could use some salt though… Chocolate chip: too much chocolate. Sweet overpowers the delicate balance of the cookie chocolate ratio. No comparison to the ones from that house two doors down, but decent. But good shortbread! Mmmm! Very good!
He continues to eat, unaware that a little girl, LUCY, has entered. she wears bright pink pj’s.
LUCY: (turns on lights) Santa Claw?
BURGLAR: (through mouthful of cookies) Huh?
LUCY: Yay! You came! Santa Claw! (she sits on the sofa) For Christmas I want-
BURGLAR: Oh no- not again! I’m not Santa Claus! And it’s not Santa Claw!
LUCY: But you’re dressed like Santa Claw! And you have a sack of toys! Or is Santa Claw sick? (Pauses) Wait- are you an elf?
LUCY bounds over to the sack
LUCY: PRESENTS! (She pulls items out of the BURGLAR’S sack) Yay! A… blender? And forks and knives (pronounces KNIVES) and spoons? Plates, bowls, jewelwy? (mispronounced) But that’s not what I asked for! You promised me! (Begins to sob) A-a-nd at Mac-cy’s you sa-aid I cou- uld have a-anyth-hing I wah- han-ted! You’re no- ot Sa- ant- a Cla-aw!
BURGLAR: Wait! Don’t cry! Shhh! I am Santa Claw! Shhh!
BURGLAR: Yeah. Sure, kiddo.
BURGLAR: Ok, kid- Santa says you should go to bed. You- bed. Got it?
LUCY: Shouldn’t you be in bed?
BURGLAR: No- I’m far too busy to be in bed at this hour!
LUCY: Delivering presents, right?
BURGLAR: Yeah, sure.
LUCY: Santa Claw, will you tell me a story?
BURGLAR: Only if you promise you will go to bed afterwards.
BURGLAR: (Sits down) Fine. Once upon a time, there was a princess. She had lots of money and was very happy. But then she married a woman who ran away with all of her money and stole her job, leaving the princess alone and broken hearted. The princess had to sell all of her favorite things, and had to steal to survive, from other rich people. The princess lost her daughter, her house, her dog, her friends, and her clothes. And she lived happily ever after.
LUCY: That was a good story. I’ve never heard that one before. Tell me another one!
BURGLAR: No! You promised you’d go to bed now!
LUCY: But I don’t want to!
BURGLAR: Look kid, sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to. Sometimes you have to sign divorce papers and parenthood contracts and legal settlements. Sometimes you have to break all contact with your loved ones so you don’t hurt them. You have to make sacrifices, and do things you don’t want to, you know? And sometimes you have to go to bed, ok?
LUCY: But it’s not night anymore!
BURGLAR: What are you talking about? It’s still dark out.
LUCY: Look at the clock!
BURGLAR: 1:02. Its Christmas morning.
LUCY: Merry Christmas, Santa Claw! (hugs BURGLAR)
BURGLAR: Ok, get off me.
LUCY: Tell me a story. It isn’t night anymore. Tell me about the North Pole!
BURGLAR: It’s full of snow and reindeer and gumdrops and elves and happiness. Now go to bed!
LUCY: (ignores his pleas) Why are they called “reindeer”? Do they make it rain?
BURGLAR: No, it’s spelled R-E-I-N-
LUCY: (interrupts) I KNOW how it’s spelled!
BURGLAR: (sighs) never mind.
LUCY: Let’s play a board game!
BURGLAR: Sorry, Santa has to go.
BURGLAR: There are still more houses for Santa to collect… cookies from… and leave presents…
LUCY: But we’re the last house on the block!
A police siren is heard, far away.
BURGLAR: Kid, I really have to go!
BURGLAR gets up and heads for the door.
LUCY: Don’t you want some breakfast?
BURGLAR: (stops in his tracks) I suppose the other houses can wait…
He goes to the window, and looks outside.
LUCY: Yay! Now, what can I cook you? You can have bread with chocolate, carrots and marshmallows, ketchup, or ice cream. Which one do you want?
BURGLAR: How about some turkey?
LUCY: No! (stomps foot)
LUCY: We don’t have a turkey!
BURGLAR: No turkey on Christmas Eve? Are you getting one later?
LUCY: No. Aunty says that turkey reminds her too much of Mummy and Daddy, because they always used to cook it for her.
BURGLAR: Where’s Mummy and Daddy then? What about your uncle? Won’t he make it?
LUCY: They died. Uncle died when I was born. Daddy died in a car crash two years ago, and Mummy died of cancer three weeks ago.
BURGLAR: Right before Christmas?
LUCY: We went to the funeral, and Aunty said that Mummy wasn’t going to be buried, because it was too cold. She said that underground, it’s cold and dark, and nobody will ever see Mummy’s pretty face again. She won’t be able to climb up to heaven. She’ll be trapped at the centre of the Earth.
LUCY sniffles a tiny bit. She is obviously upset.
BURGLAR: That’s so tragic!
The BURGLAR pulls out a hankie. LUCY continues on. `
LUCY: She was creamated. (Pronounced CREAM-ayt-TED)
BURGLAR: Cremated. (LUCY glares at him.) Sorry- go on. (He sniffles.)
LUCY: (rambling) That means she was in a box with colourful flowers, then she went into a dark hole. Everyone was crying. I wore a shiny dress. Even Aunty was crying, and she came up and said, “Lucy, you’re not going to see your mother for a very long time.” I said, “How long?”, and she said, “Not until you’re a very old lady.” Mummy and Daddy and Uncle are dead. They used to be alive, but now they’re not. That means they’re gone. And I won’t see them until I’m an old lady. They’re not here anymore, because they’re dead. Look. These are their faces.
She takes off a locket she is wearing, and pries it open. She hands it to BURGLAR.
BURGLAR: That’s so sad! I’m sorry.
LUCY: I miss Mummy! Last night, I had a dream. Mummy was running at me, and I was scared and ran away. She kept calling me, but when she couldn’t find me, she disappeared. I’m afraid to fall asleep.
She hugs him. He looks uncomfortable, but pats her head.
BURGLAR: I’m sorry! Do you want to talk?
LUCY: (Stops hugging him, sniffles.) Uh-uh.
They sit in silence for a little while.
BURGLAR: I’m sorry. You know what always makes me feel better?
BURGLAR: Eating something tasty. Do you want me to make you something?
LUCY: Ok. Can you make me a whole grain pancake with strawberries and whipped cream on the side?
BURGLAR: Sorry, don’t really know how to cook. I had to sell my stove a while ago. That was two years ago, I think- I had gotten taller, so I needed new trousers. See? I still wear them.
LUCY: I think those are ugly.
BURGLAR: (Sighs) Well, that’s what Santa wears ok? Now, what do you want?
LUCY: Can we have cookies?
BURGLAR: Sure. Where do you keep the bread and butter?
LUCY: But I want cookies, not a samwich!
BURGLAR: But I am going to have a samwich- wait a second- I mean sandwich. (He looks around) Oh, there’s the fridge! (He begins to root through it.) Ooh! Raspberries, blueberries, watermelon! Isn’t that expensive to be getting in the middle of the winter? I haven’t had fruit for three years now- except for the berries I can find in the park. Ahh, here it is- bread and butter. (He closes the fridge.) When I went to France, seven years ago with my wife, we stayed in the Ritz. We had the most delicious, expensive foods: Escargot, cuisses de grenouilles, truffles, croissants, steak, lobster… and look at me now- living off of bread and water, if I’m lucky. (laughs bitterly) Well, burglars can’t be choosers.
LUCY: (stares at him, still eating her cookies.) That’s sounds like fun. What are all of those foods, anyways?
BURGLAR: Well, escargot are snails, cuisses de grenouilles are frog legs, and truffles are a type of black fungus.
BURGLAR: Did you know some people eat cow tongues? And eyeballs.
LUCY: That’s gross! (laughs.)
BURGLAR: Well, some people will pay a lot of money for those foods. So, uh- tell me about yourself. So, umm… where do you go to school?
LUCY: I’m home- schooled.
BURGLAR: But why don’t you go to public school? Don’t you have any schoolfriends?
LUCY: Auntie says that public school teachers are idiots and try to make you stupid, and that the other kids are a bad influnce.
BURGLAR: You mean “influence?”
LUCY: No! Influnce! Stop interrupting!
BURGLAR: Sorry. But don’t you have friends?
LUCY: No. I used to, but not anymore.
BURGLAR: But then who do you go ice skating with? Who do you go sledding with? Who do you go swimming with? Who comes to your birthday party?
LUCY: I don’t have a birthday party. And Auntie says the other kids are riff raff and grubby urchins that won’t ever come to anything. What does that mean?
BURGLAR: That means your Aunt is a snobby elitist, if anything.
BURGLAR: Nevermind. Your Aunt should let you have friends! Don’t you feel lonely?
LUCY: Sometimes. I used to have a friend named Mary, but then her father lost his job and they had to move. Auntie said that was because her father was lazy, but he broke his leg because he was run over by a car, and he couldn’t work. I never told Auntie.
BURGLAR: That’s terrible! It sounds like you have some issues with your Aunt. Would you like to talk to me about this? Don’t worry, this meeting will be completely confidential. This is a safe space.
BURGLAR: I’m sorry. I used to be a very well renowned psychologist. But then my wife became jealous of a friend of mine who was also a patient, spread a rumour, divorced me and took everything: my children, my house, my money, and my credibility.
LUCY: That’s like when Jessica stole my homework and turned it in. That was right before I was home-schooled.
BURGLAR: Not quite the same thing…
LUCY: Can you help me with my homework?
BURGLAR: Ummm, sure. Ok. What homework is it?
LUCY: Math. It’s long division and multiplication.
BURGLAR: Ok. I’m not that good at math, though. Do you have a textbook or something?
LUCY: Yes. (runs and gets a textbook off of a shelf, then runs and grabs a plate of cookies) Whoops! (she drops the plate, which lands on her foot) Ow! (she cries)
BURGLAR: (fatherly) are you all right? Looks like your foot is bleeding. (he gets her a damp paper towel) Where are the band aids?
LUCY: Ow- it hurts!
BURGLAR: Don’t touch it. And try to wash it with the cloth.
LUCY: Ok. Ow!
Footsteps are heard upstairs, but neither character seems to notice.
BURGLAR: Are you ok? Did any glass get in your foot?
The BURGLAR begins to clean up the glass. Once finished, he comes back to Lucy and helps her sit down.
BURGLAR: Ok, all clean. Now let’s continue with your homework. (He reads her textbook label, on the inside front cover.) Property of Lucy McGall, first edition 1987. The first problem is seven times one. Do you know how to do this?
BURGLAR: Well, what do you know?
LUCY: Umm… I know that all numbers times zero are zero, right?
BURGLAR: Good. And don’t forget that all numbers times one are themselves, right?
LUCY: Yea! So seven times one is seven?
BURGLAR: Correct. Next problem: nine divided by three.
LUCY: That’s three.
BURGLAR: Good job! Are you sure you need my help? (She begins to scribble. Soon she stops, and throws her pencil down.)
LUCY: Ok, done.
LUCY: Yep. (She yawns.) Where do you live?
LUCY picks up a picture book and flips through it as she and the BURGLAR talk. She lies on her stomach, propped on her elbows.
BURGLAR: In a cardboard box on Maple Street.
LUCY: Auntie says that’s a bad neighborhood.
BURGLAR: Well, it’s not exactly first class living.
AUNT enters unseen by others. She looks like she’s about to scream, but then covers her mouth. she sneaks past the BURGLAR and LUCY, hiding behind furniture. They look behind them, but don’t see her. She grabs a phone and crawls under the table. There she dials and whispers into the phone. Meanwhile, LUCY and the BURGLAR talk in low voices.
LUCY: Once we were walking in that neighborhood, and there was a man who was starving. He only had a shirt and pants on, and he was shivering. He kept asking for money, but Auntie told me not to look at him. She said that the neighborhood was bad and full of beggars, and that I should never go there alone. When we came back home, there was an ambulance, and the man was gone.
A police siren is heard again, even closer.
BURGLAR: Uh oh, I have to go.
AUNT dials again.
LUCY: Don’t leave, Santa Claw!
BURGLAR: (He look back and forth between the door.)
LUCY: Please stay!
BURGLAR: (In a dramatic whisper) Ok.
There is a knock at the door, and the AUNT rushes to it, pulling it open. Several policemen rush into the room. LUCY looks surprised and frightened, the BURGLAR gets up and looks for an escape route. He runs, and POLICEMAN 1 bars his way. He runs in another direction and POLICEMAN 2 blocks him. The rest of the POLICEMEN corner him. POLICEMAN 1 pulls a black bag over his head, and POLICEMAN 2 handcuffs him. Meanwhile LUCY begins to cry. AUNT rushes to her and protectively grabs her.
AUNT: Lucy! Don’t look! Go upstairs!
The POLICEMEN start to push him through the door.
LUCY cries even harder, the door slams behind the BURGLAR and POLICEMEN.
Age 12, Grade 8
Hunter College High School