Horseshoes and Dream-grenades (A Short Play)

31 Plays in 31 Days #18

(A pile of money. JONES lies on top of it, crying.)

(Enter SMITH, in a hurry.)

SMITH
Oh my god.

JONES
(through sobs)
Oh, there you are. That was fast.

SMITH
You scared me, the tone of your voice. I thought… something is terribly wrong…
This… uh, this is… real money?

JONES
Yes.

SMITH
This is a pile of real money.

JONES
Yes.

SMITH
Like fifty million dollars or something, just randomly throwing that number out there.

JONES
Sixty-eight point four million. Plus one two-dollar bill right here, just because.

SMITH
And you’re crying on top of this pile of sixty-eight point four million and two dollars.

JONES
Yes.

SMITH
Because it… isn’t yours?

JONES
No, it’s mine.

SMITH
Because… they’re taking it away?

JONES
No, it’s mine for good, see?

(JONES hands SMITH a lottery ticket and a big stamped receipt.)

JONES
Already took taxes out and everything! Signed, sealed, cashed, delivered!

SMITH
You finally won the lottery! After all these years!

JONES
(sobbing harder than before)
I kno-o-owwww…

SMITH
Uh.

(SMITH strides forward and pats JONES on the back.)

SMITH
There, there?

(JONES embraces SMITH awkwardly and sobs.)

JONES
It’s so awful.

SMITH
Well uh I can take it off your hands if you want, heh, heh.

(JONES gives SMITH a dark and terrible look.)

SMITH
That was a joke.

(JONES maintains the dark look.)

SMITH
A bad joke.

(JONES maintains the dark look.)

SMITH
I will not take and have no interest in actually taking your big pile of money. Satisfied, Scrooge McDuck?

(JONES accept this and goes back to sobbing.)

JONES
Goo-oo-ood… Because I have so many things to do with it.

SMITH
I know, right! Couldn’t have happened to a better person. I expect your charity house idea will be a reality soon?

JONES
Yeah…

SMITH
You could really turn this neighborhood around.

JONES
Yeah…

SMITH
Even pay off those student loans from that one year of community college.

JONES
Well, probably.

SMITH
So why so sad?

JONES
I’m not poor anymore!

(SMITH looks confused.)

SMITH
Yay?

JONES
It’s horrible!

SMITH
I know they say that the money can ruin a person, but you don’t seem the type, old friend, to, you know, go on some wild spending spree and fill closets with Rolls Royces and fill garages with shoes and coats or anything like that.

JONES
Not like that.

SMITH
Well, you might lose some friends who turn out to be… ulp… greedy, but you’ll find out who your real friends are and be all the richer for it.

JONES
Yeah, yeah.

(JONES sniffs.)

SMITH
Okay, I’m failing to see the problem here.

JONES
What have I always wanted deep down more than anything?

SMITH
In all the years we’ve been friends, my delirious friend, you’ve always been a saint.

JONES
NO I HAVEN’T! AND NOW I NEVER WILL!

SMITH
…Be a saint?

JONES
NO!

SMITH
As in, canonized and all that?

JONES
Exactly!
I’ll never take my place among the constellation of Teresas, Anthonys, Lawrences, Judes, Paulas, Martin de Porreses or Vincent de Pauls in the sainted heavens!

SMITH
Because of money?

JONES
Are you kidding? Do you think rich people get to be saints? Who ever heard of a fat, wealthy, non-suffering, lottery-winning saint?

SMITH
I mean, he’s not fat, but Bill Gates has done quite a bit of good with all his money.

JONES
Yes, but saints! I’m talking about saints! Do you really see the Church announcing a Saint Gates fifty years from now?

SMITH
Well, maybe if you give all your money away…

JONES
Then what? Winning a lottery and giving it away doesn’t take any work! My path to sainthood was to toil, work and break my body in these back alleys and depressed tenements over a long and weary life, lifting up hundreds, thousands and millions with my message of spiritual upliftment in spite of – even because of – poverty.

SMITH
So give it all away and then choose poverty again.

JONES
Give it all away and be poor? What do you think I am, stupid?

SMITH
Okay, fine. So you’re going to keep the money-

JONES
Some of it-

SMITH
Some of it- And whine about how keeping the money makes you not a saint.

JONES
I have a responsibility! To myself, to my parents and siblings, to you even. I’d be a bad person if I didn’t buy things for my loved ones. I’d even be a total jerk if I didn’t buy a house and a car or two and a personal trainer, cause, I mean, come on, how can I win the lottery, be a rich person, give it away and then go begging door to door just because I want to be a saint? Everyone will be like “gosh, what a jerk, you couldn’t have kept enough for yourself?”

SMITH
I don’t mean to contradict you or anything, and I don’t want to you know make you angry and get myself cut out of the charity-

(JONES gives SMITH a dark look again.)

SMITH
Jesus, I can’t make a joke?
Anyways my point is sorry but I don’t have a lot of sympathy for you – you’re getting a new, comfortable life for yourself at whatever comfort level you choose, you’re going to make a lot of people happy by giving at least some if not most of it away, and because you don’t think you’ll get to be a saint, you want me to see this as a bad thing and console you?

JONES
My friend. You always dreamed of being a singer, right? You’ve been going to auditions, trying out for choirs, singing along to the radio since as long as I can remember.

SMITH
Yeah.

JONES
You still have that dream, right? You’re married, have two lovely children, you’re making do with what you have, but you still seem sad every time you hear about whatshername from around the corner who “made it.”

SMITH
Yeah.
Yeah, so.

JONES
And you’ll die unhappy knowing that you never got to be a singer, right?

SMITH
Well when you put it that way.

JONES
It’s not like you can just change your dream. You can’t change the fact that every night as a kid you would stare at the singers on TV and dance around and you can’t erase the thousands of hours you tried and tried.

SMITH
Okay, painful memories, yeah, it sucks, and maybe I’ll die unfulfilled in some way, but, hey, beautiful family, can’t complain.

JONES
Sure you can! Sure you can! Hasn’t my message always been, complain about not getting what you wanted? Don’t just say “eating three small meals a day, working twelve-hour shifts, living in a twenty-foot room, that’s enough, at least I’m alive?” Hasn’t that always been my Big Important Message Thing?

SMITH
Yes, and people like it.

JONES
Well okay.

SMITH
You can still get your message out…

JONES
My friend. How many nights over the years have I kept you up talking about how wonderful it will be to get the eternal reward of sainthood at the end of all my aforementioned weary toiling?

SMITH
Five hundred and fifty seven nights. So, okay. Sure. But I thought it was sort of, you know, the consolation prize that you’d get after doing good works lifelong.

JONES
No no no. Ever since I was a child, I used to stare at the patron saint candles and dream I might one day be a flickering yet eternal flame among them…

SMITH
You were a creepy child.

JONES
And now I’m a lucky adult. Lucky me! So much money! Lucky me!

SMITH
Can’t you… you know… rejoice in still getting to do good works?

JONES
Can’t you rejoice in still getting to sing in the car on the way to your boring but passable job?

SMITH
…I don’t think it compares.

JONES
Well I can’t rejoice. My dream is over. I’m lying on a lottery bed, but when I go to sleep I shall never

(SMITH pushes over the pile of money and JONES with it.)

SMITH
Stupid dumbface.

JONES
Hey!

SMITH
What makes you think you would get to be a saint anyway?

JONES
I had a plan.

SMITH
Work hard, don’t drink, stay a blessed virgin, cut your hair funny, walk the streets, hug everybody, pray every day, judge no one, funnel all your resources into charity, preach the message of self-improvement and fight poverty all your life, vegetarianism.

JONES
Veganism.

SMITH
Yes, I know. All those nights, remember? My point is – what’s your point? So you had a plan, that doesn’t mean you’d ever have gotten to be a saint.

JONES
It was a good plan.

SMITH
I had a good plan to be a singer. Rehearsal, training, auditions, not making the mistakes so many others make, performing wherever I could, being good to work with, being unique, being very attractive, but we see how far all that got me.

JONES
You could still be a singer. Miracles happen.

SMITH
Thanks. And you could still have never come out a saint even without this supposedly sainthood-killing money pile.

JONES
You can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t. I had a chance.

SMITH
…Ugh.

JONES
What.

SMITH
You-
You really didn’t.

JONES
Didn’t what.

SMITH
Didn’t have a chance.
You really didn’t have a chance.

JONES
Look, I realize the odds were low in terms of raw numbers-

SMITH
Mostly it’s that you’re a self-righteous, self-absorbed, self-mythologizing jerk.

JONES
I-
What?

SMITH
Sorry. My friend, I love you, but you’re a big old jerk a lot of the time. It’s kind of a miracle that you’ve actually done so much good for people. Sorry for you to find out this way, but, yeah, you were never going to be a saint.

JONES
Why did you never say anything before?

SMITH
Because you were clearly very good at trying to be a saint despite being a big assface! You were all set for a life of doing some pretty good stuff, and I wasn’t going to get in the way of that, or your dream, because I am a good friend.

JONES
Is that true? You’re not just saying that to me to try and get the money or something?

SMITH
No! Wouldn’t lying to you about that make you keep the money for yourself anyways?

JONES
You’re right. If my dream is dead why even bother, right?

SMITH
Uh, well…

JONES
All this time I’ve wasted… And gosh, I really believed my Big Message too. Worthless…

(JONES pulls out a lighter and goes to light the money on fire.)

SMITH
WOAH WOAH WOAH

JONES
What? I’m not going to give it to anyone. It’s all a puff of smoke.

SMITH
Relax, relax, you darling sweet crazy nutty thing you. Let’s not do anything hasty.

JONES
I was never going to be a saint. I’m a horrible person. Why even bother?

SMITH
Well, what do I know?

JONES
You seemed pretty sure.

SMITH
Yeah, but, who can know the future? Besides, half the saints were assholes! Mother Teresa – big asshole.

JONES
No way.

SMITH
Yeah, sure! Took blood money from dictators, I read that somewhere. And she’s revered even more than the old classic saints by some people.

JONES
And she’s only beatified, yet.

SMITH
Really? Yeah, yeah, see? Maybe you can be the first rich saint. Chart a new course, huh?

JONES
I don’t know… I don’t think I can bring myself to go on, not knowing that I will take my place among them…

SMITH
I mean… you do know that, in order to be a saint, you have to die first? So it’s not like you were ever going to know for sure?

JONES
I’d know in heaven.

SMITH
Right, but your work is on Earth.

JONES
…All right, fine… But I felt I had a sure thing…

SMITH
You felt you did, but now you do.

JONES
No, I don’t-

SMITH
This is your sure thing!

(SMITH sits in the money.)

JONES
Stand up.

SMITH
Sorry.

(JONES sits in the money.)

SMITH
See? That feels pretty sure, doesn’t it?

JONES
Not a sure way to sainthood.

SMITH
But a sure way to do something.
Because if you do nothing with all of this just because you can’t get everything, your whole crazy starry-eyed dream, then I will personally… piss in all of your saints candles.

JONES
I’m… sorry.

SMITH
You better be.
I’m glad you called me before you went, like, public with this.

JONES
It just… hurts… Knowing that it will all be for nothing.

SMITH
See, that’s what I’m talking about, the self-absorbed jerk thing.

JONES
Sorry.
Do you… do you want to sit in the money with me?

SMITH
Sure.

JONES
Thank you, old friend.

(They sit together in the money. JONES leans against SMITH.)

JONES
You know…

SMITH
Hmm?

(SMITH casually works a stack out of the pile.)

JONES
Maybe I can experience the whole existential dream-fulfillment thing vicariously…

SMITH
Oh yeah?

(SMITH sneaks the money into a back pocket out of Jones’ view.)

JONES
Maybe I can buy you a singing career.

(SMITH smiles.)

SMITH
You’d be a saint in my book.

(JONES smiles back.)

(End of play.)

writing time: 1:32, with interruptions

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One comment

  1. […] desk Came from wanting to write something in the inanimate-objects-anthropomorphized subgenre 18) Horseshoes and Dream-grenades – someone is sad that they have a large pile of money Came from having NO IDEA what to write and […]

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