Telephone

 SCENE ONE

                                                                                       

Two men sit on swivel chairs at their desks, facing each other. There is a fluorescent glow lighting the dreary room. On both desks there can be found a yellow telephone book, a plant, and an office phone. Herman sits to the right. He is tall and wiry, with glasses. George is on the left. He is shorter and thicker. Herman is on the phone. When he places it on the receiver, the play begins. 

                                                            Herman

And there’s only forty three more to go.

                                                            George

Time for you to play catch up. I’m at thirty nine.

                                                            Herman

You’ve had twelve instant hang-ups, I’ve had seven.

                                                            George

You know the rules. A call’s a call.

                                                            Herman

I know the rules. (Picks up a phone) Hello, this is Herman Ostrofeld and I represent Honest Frank Incorporated, and I was wondering whether or not you’d like to buy a certified Easy-On-The-Hands-Grand Piano. (pause) Certified by whom? (Pause) Certified by Honest Frank of course, now at the starting price of- (Puts down phone) Well, that makes it forty two then.

                                                            George

(Picks up a phone) Hello, this is George Leek, and I represent Honest Frank Incorporated and I was wondering. (Pause) Now Ma’am, this is not telephone solicitation, this is the best deal of your life. When you buy a certified Honest Frank-(Puts down phone). Thirty eight.

George and Herman pick up the phone at the same time and begin to speak simultaneously.

                                                            Herman

Hello, this is Herman Ostrofeld and I represent Honest Frank Incorporated, and I’m wondering whether or not you’d like to buy a certified Easy-On-The-Hands-Grand Piano. (Pause) Three orders? (Pause) Each Piano is a steal at 999 dollars and 99 cents. (Pause) Frankly sir, you’re robbing us blind with a price like that. And yes, pun intended. (Pause)Well remember, these pianos are easy on the hands, a true bargain-

                                                            George

Hello, this is George Leek, and I represent Honest Frank Incorporated and I’m wondering whether or not you’d like to buy a certified Quiet-as-a-mouse-Jackhammer. (Pause) You’d use a jackhammer for making your own Olympic sized swimming pool in your backyard, and not only that you make it at night it’s so quiet. (Pause) In an apartment? Frankly ma’am (Pun intended) it looks absolutely stunning if you stick a lampshade on it and-

            After a brief pause they both hang up the phone simultaneously.

                                                            Herman

Is it just me, or is it time for the break?

                                                            George

Without a doubt.

            Both men move their desks forward a few feet.

                                                            Herman

Alright, you go first.

                                                            George

Is it a person?

                                                            Herman

Yes.

                                                            George

Male or female
                                                           Herman

Yes.

                                                            George

That doesn’t answer the question.

                                                            Herman

Maybe you should follow the rules. You only have 18 left.

                                                            George

Is it Margaret Thatcher?

                                                            Herman

Bingo. My turn.

                                                            George

Shoot.

                                                            Herman

Is it a person?
                                                            George

Without a doubt.

                                                            Herman

Male?

                                                            George

Most assuredly not.

                                                            Herman

Is it Margaret Thatcher?         

                                                            George

Yup. Break’s over.

            They move their desks back to their original position. George begins to flip through his yellow book, and Herman stares into space. George stops, and punches a number into his phone. Herman’s phone rings. Herman picks it up.

                                                            George

(Speaking into his phone) Let’s play telephone.

                                                            Herman

(Speaking into his phone) Very funny.

                                                            George

I’ll start. The North American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is migratory songbird. The following states have it as their state birds: Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It has seven subspecies.

                                                            Herman (Thinking for a bit before speaking)

I’ll start. The North American Robber (Turd Migraine) is meager story songbird. The following statuses have it as their state banks: Connect-a-cut, Michelin, and Whisky Johansen. It has seven submarines.

                                                                    

                                                            George

Much closer than you were before. Improving.

                                                            Herman

At this rate, it’ll never be my turn. (They both hang up phone)                                             

            There is a moment of silence as both GEORGE and HERMAN flip through their phonebooks. Herman’s phone rings again. Both men look at it in shock. Herman picks up the phone.

                                                            Herman

Hello? (Pause) Would I like to buy Honest Earnest’s limited addition maple syrup holder? (Pause) Is that some sort of sick joke? (Pause) Listen, ‘sir’, let’s be Frank here. Honest Frank’s Vintage Addition Maple Syrup Holder could blow Earnest’s out of the water. Our ‘handmade’ look and smooth-china-feel has customers all over the greater Porter county drooling. (Pause) Oh please. Oh please. Your grainy wooden texture is something that a three year old knows is cheap Chinese plastic. (Pause. Herman grows enraged and stands) Would you care to repeat that little comment? (Pause) Oh. You would. (Pause) You know what?, My idol Ghandi (Pronounced ‘Gandy”) once said “You spit in my tea, and I’ll spit in yours, buster”. (Slams phone down, and sits.)

            (There is a moment of silence. Both men sit looking at the phone. George’s phone rings.)                                       

                                                            George

Hello? (Pause) An Honest Earnest Reel-Reel Blue Velvet Table Mat? Are you out of your mind? (Pause) I’d rather die than even touch one of your crap products. (Pause) It may come to that? Bold words, ‘sir’.  (Pause) Frankly Honest Frank’s Smooth-Groove Red Velvet Table Cloth makes your mat look like a thrice damned dead rat, limp on the side of the road. (Pause) Good day to you as well.

            (There is a moment of silence. Both men sit looking at the phone.)

                                                            Herman

We should kill Earnest.

                                                            George

Yes. Yes we should.  

                                                             Herman

In the most violent way possible.

            In busts David, a robust forty year old, stage left. He breezes across the stage, George and Herman both glare at him. David pauses at the edge of right, and turns to face G. and H.

                                                            David

I take it all you lot are having a fine day?

                                                            Herman

You’re 187 minutes late.

                                                            George

That’s 34 minutes later than yesterday.

                                                            David

Sorry chaps, had a meeting to attend.

                                                            Herman

(Gesturing to coffee in David’s hand) A meeting at Starbucks?

                                                            David

(Looks at coffee and shrugs) Sure, why not?

                                                            George

You may be pleased to hear that I have made a total of 41-

                                                            David

Yes, yes, good for you. One last thing to note, Mr. Frank is visiting our branch tomorrow so try not to brutally murder anyone!

            Laughs at his own joke and exits right. Herman and George sit in a stunned silence.          

                                                            Herman

The epitome of excellent will be visiting this very place in less than 24 hours.

            George inexplicably begins to cry.                                         

                                                         Herman

None of that, now. We must be ready for tomorrow. Ready like we’ve never been. We must use the notebook to help us.

                                                         George (Through tears)

You’re right, let’s draw up the plan.

             Herman takes out pen and old notebook from the desk, and writes while speaking.

Herman

First of all, we must dress in our finest Honest-Frank-Antique-Party-Clothing.  We must wear our Honest Frank-Zany-Party-Ties, and our Honest-Frank-Supreme-Bowling-Shoes. We must sleep at least 10 hours, and shower three times. We must arrive back in this very room at 0600 hours. We must make sure to sing the anthem as soon as our beloved leader sets his holy foot upon the carpet. Any questions?

                                                         George

Yes. Must we leave the office? I’d like to sleep over again; I’m frightened at the prospect of being late.

                                                         Herman

Request approved. Forget plan A, move to plan B. Let’s take out our official over night Honest Frank sleeping bags.

                                                         George

I propose we sleep immediately, as to make the hours fly.

                                                         Herman

I second the motion. I will change into my Reel-Velvet-Honest-Honest-Frank-Night-Robe.

            They both systematically set up their sleeping bags beneath their desks and enter them. Herman puts on a cheap looking robe.

                                                         George

We should make sure we remember the tune to the most sacred anthem.

                                                         Herman

An excellent idea.

            George and Herman begin to sing together in off kilter tones

                                                George and Herman

Do you want to shop without breaking the bank?

Maybe you’d like to check out ol’ Honest Frank!

Cocktail glasses? Pianos? An ivory chess set?

Call Hoooonest Frank for a deal you’ll forgeeeeeet! 1-800-640-5678..

            At the end of “1” George falls asleep instantly.

                                                         Herman (Exhausted)

George, don’t forget to set an alarm on your cellular device. 

            Herman drops his head and sleeps. 10 seconds later, David enters stage right, and doesn’t see G and H, he exits stage left. Lights dim, and scene comes to an end.

 

 

 

 

                                               

 

 

 

 

SCENE TWO

Lights slowly brighten. George and Herman have twisted themselves into strange positions in their sleeping bag. Herman is snoring loudly and George is clutching his plant. The door slams open and DAVID enters stage right with FRANK. Frank is a man in his seventies, wearing a suit and tie. DAVID is talking animatedly to FRANK.

                                                             DAVID

And so you see, if we use rat fur for our Reel Velvet the profits-

DAVID sees George and Herman and stops dead. He tries to spin and stop FRANK from entering the office, but it’s too late. Both men stare at the prone figures for 5 seconds. DAVID in horror, FRANK in disgust and curiosity. Herman releases a huge snore, stretches, and opens his eyes.          

                                                             Herman (Stumbling to his feet, he begins spewing out words.)          

Oh god, oh god, uh, have you ever, uh, wanted to shop without breaking- (Bangs his head on underside of desk) OUCH- uh, the bank, uh, uh-

George awakens and quickly realized what’s going on. He too begins to speak and move at once, knocking over several things in the process. Herman continues talking, and George joins in, speaking simultaneously.

                                                             Herman

Uh, maybe you’d like to check old, no, good old Honest Bank, Frank, and then with cocktails, pianos, chess ivory and sets, er, 1-800-640-5678.

                                                             George

Maybe you’d like to piano, no, uh, maybe check out the uh, the uh, the uhh, Frank, old Frank, pianoscocktailschesssets 1-800-640-5678. They both trail off and stare at FRANK with huge eyes.

 Pause                                                                 

                                                                  Frank

 David, I wasn’t aware that we use our offices as homeless shelters in the evenings.

                                                                  David

 I can explain!

                                                        

                                                             Frank

Explain after you remove these two unfortunates, please.

                                                             David

No, no, Mr. Frank, sir! These two work here!

                                                             Frank

You’re paying the homeless men? I don’t follow.

                                                             David

No! They’re employees! They’re not homeless, I think.

                                                             Herman

May, may I touch you, Mr. Frank?

                                                             George

I’ve dreamed of this moment for so long.

                                                             Frank

What the hell what the hell are you wearing?

                                                             Herman

My Reel-Velvet-Honest-Honest-Frank-Night-Robe, sir.

                                                             George

And I’m wearing pants.

                                                             Frank

David, may we discuss this in your office?

            Frank cross the stage, and exits right. David looks long and hard at Herman and George, who stare stage right. After 5 seconds, David follows Frank, and exits the stage.

                                                             George

My ears can’t believe my eyes are saying this, but he was not all he was chalked up to be. Where was his Honest-Frank-Deluxe-Top-Hat?

            Herman slowly turns to face George, he can barely repress his anger.

                                                             Herman

Let’s play telephone, shall we?

            They both sit at their decks abruptly, and speak into their phones.

                                                            Herman

At this point in time, I would actually like you to die.

                                                            George

Atlas punt and rhyme, I would actually lick you tie dye.     

                                                            Herman

You didn’t set the alarm. I told you to set the alarm. Why would you not set the alarm? Frank thinks I’m homeless now.

                                                            George

You dent settler’s arms. Adieu to settler’s arms. Eye would unit settler’s arms? Frankfurt’s rhyme, toneless cow.

            Herman covers up the receiver and whispers harshly.

                                                            Herman

George, do you not understand what I’m trying to say to you?       

                                                            George

(Whispers back) Of course I do, but I for one, remember the rules. You don’t just understand, you repeat back.

                                                            Herman

Ah, good point.

            They both speak into the phones again

                                                            George

My turn. Quadruple Headlamps, Libraries and wastepaper baskets.                        

                                                            Herman

Mitten. Cultural eyes, hoodlums, pie berries and whisper baskets. My turn. (pause) I’m going to punch you in less than 5 seconds.

                                                            George

(Widens eyes, and whimpers) Mitten. I’m going to punch you in less than 5 seconds.

            They both put down their telephones and look at each other.

                                                            Herman

Bingo.

            Herman winds up, and then delivers the weakest punch known to man. George reacts as if he’s been branded.

                                                            George

OH GOD. I NEED WATER, I NEED MEDICAL ATTENTION. OH GOD. IT’S LIKE A THOUSAND WASPS JUST CIRCLING, NEVER STINGING, BUT CIRCLING, ALWAYS CIRCLING. AH. I SEE THE LIGHT. I SEE THE DARKNESS. I’M IN A TUNNEL. IT’S DELANCY STREET. BLOOD! BLOOD IN THE WATER!

                                                            Herman

Did it hurt? Am I good at punching?

                                                            George

OH THE HUMANITY. THE HUMANITY.

            Frank and David burst in from stage right.

                                                            David

What’s the problem in here?!

                                                            Frank

Did you two hooligans kill each other yet?

                                                            George

He-he punched me. No, he smoked me. He smoked me with his right arm!

                                                            Herman

Alright, in my defense, how could he have not seen it coming?

                                                             David

A fair argument; George, did you see it coming?

                                                            George

No! But I did hear it coming.

                                                            Frank

I’m going back into your office David. Remove the homeless man who punched the other one.

            Frank walks back off stage left

                                                            David

Herman, get out.

                                                            George

Hey now, it didn’t hurt that much. It was like circling wasps, but they never stung.

                                                            David

George, shut up. Herman, get out.

                                                            Herman

You’re making a big mistake! All I ever did was follow the rules!

                                                            David

Yeah, right. Like punching someone is in the rules.

                                                            George

It is actually! Section 33.4!

                                                            David

Herman, take your plant, and leave.

            Herman stumbles over to his desk and picks up his plant. George sits down heavily at his desk, and David returns to his office. George and Herman look at each other.

                                                            George

Are you going to reapply, or head to Earnest?                                                          

Herman

Yes.

                                                            George

That doesn’t answer my question.

                                                            Herman

Maybe you should follow the rules. You only have 19 left.

Herman walks out, taking his plant with him. Lights dim. End SCENE TWO.          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCENE THREE

Lights come up on an identical set up to SCENE ONE and TWO. Herman sits on left, and a young, bored looking man sits on the right. He wears a baseball cap, and is named Mark. A man walks on, who has a mustache. He is Philip, the manager at Honest Earnest. He stands next to Herman.

                                                            Philip

So, today begins your probationary period. My office is to the left, there is no bathroom. Good luck out there, and the numbers are in the yellow book.

                                                            Herman

Oh, the numbers are in the yellow book? Thanks for enlightening me, Sherlock.

                                                            Philip

My name’s Philip, not Sherlock.

            (Pause, Herman looks at Philip.)

                                                            Philip

I’ll be going now.       

            Philip exits stage right.

                                                            Mark                                   

Welcome to the most boring job on earth.

                                                            Herman

Welcome to shut up now please, ha.

                                                            Mark

Alright then.

            Pause                                                                             

                                                            Herman

So, how many calls have you completed so far?

                                                            Mark

Like, five.

                                                           

                                                            Herman

Five? Are you stupid?

                                                            Mark

Dude, what the hell?

Pause

                                                            Herman

Let’s play twenty questions.

                                                            Mark

Let’s be adults.

                                                            Herman

I’ll start.

                                                            Mark

Come on man, what are you doing?

                                                            Herman

Male?

                                                            Mark

(beat) No.

                                                            Herman

(Self-satisfied) Margaret Thatcher.

                                                            Mark

Nope, Megan Fox.

            Pause

                                                            Mark

So, let’s continue playing?

                                                           

Herman

Let’s continue playing you shut up now, ha.

                                                            Mark

Out of all the people in the world who are bad at twenty questions, you are the worst.

                                                            Herman

 I used to be quite good.

            Mark shakes his head, and goes back to doodling. Herman sits for a minute, and then confidently picks up his phone and punches some numbers in

Herman

Let’s play telephone.

Lights dim, END PLAY.         

Peter Diller
Age 14, Grade 9
Bard High School Early College
Silver Key

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