A SHORT SCENE FROM THOSE SAINTLY VICTORIAN TIMES
BY STEVE DELAHOYDE & WAKI GAMEZ
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[ AN EXCITING MP3-STYLE RECORDING OF THIS SHORT SCENE, DRAMATIZED BY THE NICE FOLKS AT IRRITABLECOLON.COM, IS AVAILABLE HERE ]

(We find ourselves in the study of a large home.  Complete with high-ceilings, a thoughtfully worn wooden floor, and books and priceless antiquities lining the walls, it is the embodiment of the higher social order.  Two men, both middle-aged, but youthful in their demeanors, enter the room in mid-conversation.)

Roger:  ...and I beg of him, "My dear Mr. Pennington, why had I ever found myself in such a situation, I should think that I must immediately find myself on the way to the institution, forever imprisoned as a ward of the State." 

George (laughing):  Oh my, if that isn't the most humorous retort I've ever heard, then it shall be regarded as at least the most recent!  Bravo, old boy!  Bravo indeed. 

Roger:  Why thank you, my friend. 

George:  Think nothing of it.  Always a pleasure to hear of your trials and tribulations, however shocking they may be. 

Roger:  And quite shocking they usually are.  Snifter? 

George:  Oh, most certainly.  My whistle, as they say, needs a bit of the wetting. 

Roger:  Indeed. 

(Roger pours a glass of brandy for his guest from a large carafe that sits inside a small cabinet near his desk.  He then pours himself a glass as well). 

George (holding his glass up for a toast):  A toast to us!  Friends for as long as I remember, and hopefully as long as we both shall live. 

Roger:  I'll toast to that, most definitely.

(They both clink their glasses together and then proceed to take a careful sip) 

Roger:  We have been acquaintances for quite some time now, haven't we? 

George:  We have.  Since college, I believe. 

Roger:  Yes.  Our alma mater.  Fine days those were. 

(They both sit in quiet with quiet reflection) 

Roger:  I dare say, my dear friend, that if you were to leave this earth before I, I would erect a monument to you here on my property.  A truly grand spectacle, featuring your likeness in a classical sense.  Perhaps it would look splendid in the garden.  You can just imagine how the sun would shine upon it in the throes of Spring, the flowers in full rapture. 

George:  Oh, my friend, how honored I am in simply knowing that you would even consider such an undertaking as a tribute to me.  But I would be remiss to say that I long to out-live you, to one day speak to your grand-children of our times together. 

Roger:  You are too thoughtful. 

George:  No, only succumbing to the inherent, wonderful qualities that a friendship such as ours affords us.  And I can say with the utmost certainty that I would hire an artist of the highest caliber to construct a likeness of you, should you pass before I. 

Roger:  How splendid of you to say. 

(They both take another sip of their drinks.  Some time passes before Roger walks over to his desk and begins fishing around one of its drawers) 

George:  I say, what are you doing there? 

Roger:  Looking for...oh, where is it...something in particular.  Ah, here it is. 

(Roger pulls out an exquisite revolver) 

George:  Why it's a gun! 

Roger:  Not just any gun, my friend, but a priceless dueling pistol, an heirloom left to me by my father. 

George:  God rest his sweet soul.  But what do you mean to do with it?  Surely you have no duels to attend to today? 

Roger (laughing) No, no, my friend.  It's far to late for a duel at this hour.  And a bit windy at that. No, I intend to use this fine weapon as the means in ending my life. 

George:  Suicide?!

Roger:  Yes. 

George:  But whatever for?!  Does some ailment afflict you?  Does a romance run asunder? 

Roger:  Nothing of the sort, my good man.

George: Then good heavens, why?!

Roger: You see, I find the idea of a statue in my likeness adorning your garden quite pleasing. How nice to be remembered in such a way. But as you will not begin its construction until after I have passed, I must make haste in doing so.

George: Now please stop this at once! Youíre playing quite the fool, you are!

Roger: Nothing of the kind, my good man. I simply want to take life by the horns, as they say, and do what I feel is right and necessary.

George: By killing yourself?!

Roger: Well, "life" in a manner of speaking anyway.

George: Oh, this is just absurd!

(Roger places the gun to his head)

Roger: Goodbye, my old friend.

George: Stop! Wait!

(Roger pulls the gun away)

Roger: George, there is nothing to fear. However, if the sight is too gruesome for you, I would not feel slighted in the least were you to turn your head, or even wait outside for a brief while. The maid will attend to the mess that is made. She is paid handsomely to do just that.

George: Öbut

(Roger places the gun to his head once more)

Roger: Or we could simply forgo this whole business if you would simply begin work on this statue of mine immediately, whilst I still inhabit the earth.

George: But I couldnít!

Roger: And why not?!

George: Because itís a terrible idea! Oh, you can just imagine having guests over for tea and during a walk through the estate having them ask who you were. Oh how terrible it would seem, having to explain that you still lived just three-square blocks away. I ask you, what decent person keeps the bust of a living person in their garden?!

Roger: Many people.

George: Who? I demand that you name them at once!

Roger: Well, I donít have the specific details, but surely there must be people who have them lying around here or there. Oh! What about bust-carvers, the artisans who construct such works? Surely they must have created busts for the living!

George: I know of none.

Roger: Well that seems more a problem of your severe lack of acquaintances than is it a discernable, undeniable truth.

George: I say! Now weíre simply getting off on tangents. I demand that you stop this foolishness at once and put that pistol away before I am forced to remove it from your person myself.

Roger: You would do such a thing to save my life?

George: Of course! You are a dear friend! My most dear in fact!

Roger: Very well then.

(Roger puts the gun away and they both return to their seats. Several seconds go by in absolute silence. Finally George pulls out a small vial that contains a small amount of liquid.)

Roger: I say, old boy, what is that youíd got there?

George: A rare and deadly poison that comes from deep within the African jungles, extracted from a dreadful looking spider of some kind.

Roger: And why would one keep such a thing in his pocket?

George: Well, in order to poison oneís self, of course.

(George pours the liquid into the remainder of his brandy and swishes the liquids together)

Roger: But whatever for?!

George: Iím no fool, Roger, and you know this. If you were to kill yourself, then I would have no statue in my likeness in your garden and would be forced to place one of you in my own. As I am already, in some uncertain form, financially unstable at the moment, I fear that having to do so would stretch my income a bit further than would be to my liking. I have seen how closely you came just seconds ago to committing yourself to suicide, and have no idea if you might try this again during my absences from you, perhaps more successfully. In order to spare myself this ordeal, I will counter by drinking this poison immediately.

Roger: Why youíre the biggest fool Iíve ever met.

George: If youíll glance at the mirror, youíll see one far worse, my friend. You see, I am simply more clever. And now to drink away my life. Goodbye my faithful companion.

(Roger slowly backs towards his desk while George is speaking and once again retrieves the gun. He puts it to his head in one full swoop, just as George is putting his lips to his glass)

Roger: A ha!

George: You incorrigible baboon! Stop that at once!

Roger: Ah, but you would like that, wouldnít you?

George: Of course not! Please cease your foolery and let me attend to my duty!

Roger: My dear George, if you drink so much as a sip, I will join you in the heavens just as quickly.

George: But you mustnít! Then there will be no statues of either of us!

Roger: Exactly.

(George pulls the glass from his mouth and places it on the table. Roger keeps the gun to his head)

George: Oh, you fool. You damned fool. Youíve won this round, my clever accomplice. If only there were a way around this situation weíve worked ourselves into.

Roger: I can see no solution at all.

(Roger takes the pistol away from his head)

George: Perhaps itís best to call this whole nonsense off.

Roger: Let our gardens be gardens, and our busts be forever un-chiseled.

George: Yes.

(There is a knock at the door. The Maid enters the room with a gentleman behind her)

Maid: Mr. Bernard Hollinger

George: Bernie, you old scamp!

Roger: Youíve come to visit!

Bernard: Hope Iím not intruding gents. Was Ďround the area and thought to stop by. I knew that you too would be here, arguing over something as usual.

Roger: Ah, he knows us too well, George.

George: He does indeed.

Bernard: Say, Roger, you wouldnít have anything to drink in here, would you? I must say that I havenít been this parched in years.

Roger: Well of course! Let me fix you up something. Brandy suit your fancy?

Bernard: Iíve never once turned it down.

Roger: Perfect.

(Roger goes to the cabinet but discovers the carafe empty)

Roger: Well how embarrassing. Iíve asked Mary to fill this up once per week, time and time again, but to know avail.

George: Thatís the way the help can be sometimes.

Roger: Well, let me run downstairs to the kitchen quickly here and fetch a fresh bottle.

Bernard: Oh really, if itís such a botherÖ

Roger: No bother at all. Iíll be back before you can whistle yourself a sweet little tune.

Bernard: Youíre too kind.

Roger: Iím kind, yes, but not "too" of anything.

(Roger leaves the room. George and Bernard sit quietly in the room for a bit)

George: Oh, heavens! I nearly forgot! Thereís this glass right here full of brandy!

Bernard: But it isnít yours?

George: Oh, most certainly not. Donít care for the stuff myself. Roger always pours me a glass, but I never touch it. Please, pleaseÖ

(George picks up the glass and hands it to Bernard)

Bernard: Well, if it was just going to be wasted.

(Bernard takes a healthy swig of the brandy)

Bernard: Hmm. Thatís what Iíve been longing for a good portion of the day, you know?

(Bernard takes another swig, finishing off the glass. He puts it down on the table where it had resided before. Roger re-enters the scene with a fresh bottle of brandy)

Roger: And here we areÖ

(He retrieves a glass, pours the bottle, and then hands it to Bernard)

Bernard: Well thank you, my good man. Hereís to you and your hospitality.

(Roger has picked up his glass and toasts with Bernard. They both take generous sips. Bernard swishes the brandy around a bit in his mouth, swallows it, puts his glass down, and then promptly collapses)

Roger: Oh goodness!

George: Seems old Bernie canít handle his liquor.

(Roger rushes over to Bernardís body. He checks for a pulse)

Roger: Heíd dead.

George: Canít handle his poison either.

Roger: He what?

George: Poison. Doesnít seem to have much of a stomach for it.

Roger: You donít mean toÖ

(Roger glances at the now empty, previously poisoned glass)

Roger: Oh, George, how could you?! Poor Bernie. Never saw it coming.

George: Well, the way I figured it, weíve solved our little problem now.

Roger: What problem?

George: This debacle of having to construct a bust in the garden.

Roger: What? Of Bernard?

George: Why of course! Itís the perfect situation now, you see? Neither of us wishes the other dead, my pockets are far too light at the moment to have one built for you, and youíd rather see one before you pass. It all works out splendidly! Now we simply have to pool our monies together and have one made for Bernard here.

Roger: Well, he is dead now after all.

George: And we both liked him quite a bit.

Roger: Thatís true.

George: Oh, but Iíve just thought of a predicament weíre now in.

Roger: Howís that?

George: Well, weíd only planned on building one statue for one deceased person. But if weíre both to share in the cost for old Bernie here, then how is his bust going to appear at both of our gardens?

Roger: We could share it, I suppose. I could take the bust for one weekÖ

George: Öand I the next! Oh, how splendid! I knew you were always blessed with the brains of a champion.

(The two men sit back, looking very pleased with themselves. Eventually, George stands up)

George: Oh, goodness, how has time escaped me as it has? I must be off!

Roger: Wherever are you headed?

George: Iím needed at the opera this evening. They are premiering a new work by a dear friend of the family.

Roger: Might I tag along? It gets dreadfully boring here at night.

George: Oh, most certainly. You can dress at my home.

Roger: Splendid!

George: Oh, but shouldnít we first attend to dear old Bernie first?

Roger: Not to worry. The maid will look after him. After all, thatís what her job entails; tiding up and what not.

George: Yes, of course.

(Roger and George exit, turning off the lights as they leave. Moments later the maid enters. She begins cleaning the room, picking up the used glasses and such. Finally, she notices Bernardís lifeless body and screams a blood-curdling scream).

The End

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LET IT BE WIDELY KNOWN
steve delahoyde, one of the authors of this weekend's posting,
has prepared a special valentine's-related video
you may want to send to your sweetie.
if you prefer quicktime, click here.
if you prefer realplayer, here.