Act I

(An all American living room: “den.” Carpets and a yellow couch, a lamp, and a TV. Three siblings: Abigail, the oldest, mid-20’s, thin, pretty, but tired, dressed in a floral dress, a cheap one but a nice one, her hair’s blonde, it’s highlighted black; Louis, 16, disgruntled, looking rebellious, but not scary, he’s childish, a poser, his mouth’ll twitch when he’s upset; and Amy, a little girl, ten, blonde, precocious; and their dog Ankle, an older man in a brown, poorly-made dog costume, are stood center stage in front of the set holding hands.)  

Chorus (positioned in orchestra pit): Today,
It’s a new day,
Every day is someday,
to someone.
(x2)
Every day is someday to someone.
Every day is someday to someone!

Ankle: Everyday!

Abigail: Everyday!

Louis: Someday!

Amy: Someday!

(Appearing on stage for the first time, entering stage right, a spotlight shines: 14, cherubically chubby, bowlishly-cut black hair, Asian, affordable grey tennis shoes and sweatpants, the running kind, eyes that indicate there’s more going on you think, a deadpan face, not stern, but close.)

Day: Someone!

(Abigail leaves. Day, Ankle, Louis, and Amy remain on stage. Amy, Day, and Louis are sitting on the couch watching TV, the news. Ankle is on all-fours beside the couch.)

Amy (upset): Change the channel! I just can’t watch this anymore. I don’t understand why the news always has to be about sad things.

(The news reports that a young boy’s been missing after returning home to find that his mother had committed suicide.)

Louis: It isn’t always sad.

(He changes the channel.)

Day (matter-of-fact): It’s sad so that you feel guilty if you don’t watch it.

Louis (rolls his eyes): Well, it’s not like you’re gonna do anything about it?

Day: Says who?

Louis: Says me. (Thumb to chest.) I mean, what can you do? That’s the world. Bad things happen. All the news does is let us know about them.

Day (sly): Good things happen too. What about if we go find that kid on the news?

Amy: I’m in!

Louis: And how do you think we find him, Day? You put any thought into that? He’s one kid. Millions of people live between here and Cornflake.

(Pause, spotlight on Day.)

Day: Well, actually, Louis, I have.

(Curtain closes.)

Act II

(Abigail is standing over the sink in the kitchen, washing dishes. Amy, Louis, and Day are seated at the dinner table behind. Ankle stands beside them)

Abigail:

How did y’all enjoy dinner?

Amy:

It was de-licious!

Day:

It always is, Abby.

Louis:

So did Amy and Day tell you about their plans?

(Amy looks over at Louis disapprovingly. Day kicks him under the table and he lets out a yelp. Abigail stops her cleaning and turns around.)

Abigail (cross):

No, they didn’t. And what plans would these be? Day? Amy?

(They remain silent.)

Louis (confident, smarmy):

They were gonna go out tonight and try to find that kid who went missing. The one on the news.

Abigail (relieved):

Well, isn’t that so sweet of you two. Just make sure that you’re careful, okay?

Louis (crushed and/or exasperated):

You’re not going to stop them? Abby, what are the odds that they even find the boy? They’re not gonna! And besides, you can’t just let them leave. And what if they do!? This is supposed to be the police’s job! They’re just gonna wind up getting in trouble. You never would’ve let me go!

Abigail: Why, sure I would’ve. Why don’t you tag along with your brother and sister, Louis?

Louis (defeated and/or desperate): I don’t wanna go with them, Abigail! I told you: it’s a stupid idea…

Abigail: I guess you’ll just have to stay inside all night then…

(Louis looks over at Amy and Day, silently begging for them to invite him to come along.)

Day: Okay, then, have fun with that.

(Spotlight on Louis.)

Louis (spiteful): Why are you even here?

(He storms off stage, Ankle trailing just behind. The spotlight follows them, leaving Amy, Day, and Abigail in the kitchen in the dark. Day puts his head in his arms on the table. Ten second pause. The lights go back on in the kitchen to reveal Abigail and Amy standing by Day. Abby’s hand is on his shoulder.)

Abigail: There isn’t one reason
No one can explain
Why all us people
Put so much on our brains
Lift up your head
And think with your heart
And at least try to smile
We’ll call that a start

Chorus (quietly): Think with your heart.
(x9)

Amy (over chorus): The worst thing to exist
Is found in a frown

so clown around!

(Crescendo of orchestrated music, strings stops. Begins: funky dance breakdown, a light show, on par with the cheesiest of school dances.)

Act III

(Amy and Day are at a bus stop in front of a huge bus map, center stage, disagreeing with each other about which way they ought to go. Day keeps pointing to one spot, Amy traces the way to another. To the right of the map is the bus shelter with a bench in it people can sit on to wait. It’s plastic; the bench is plastic. There’s a few people sitting on it: a nanny with a baby in a stroller, a mechanic in his jumpsuit, a woman with heels and a brief case.) 

Amy: We’re lost, Day. Just admit it. Cornflake isn’t even on this map.

Day (continuing to point to the same spot): Yes it is, look.

Amy: That’s the last stop! It’ll be dark by the time we get there.

Day: Yeah, it will, which is why I want you to go back home.

Amy: (pissed, whining): What?! I already spent half my money on the first bus.

Day: So you wouldn’t have enough to make it home anyway, not after this one.

Amy: But what about you? How are you gonna get home?

(Day takes a 20-dollar bill out of his pocket.)

Amy (wide-eyed): Where’d you get that?

Day (after putting the money away): This lady gave it to me.

He seems ashamed.

Amy (confused): What?

Day: Yeah, it was weird. I saw a new dog on our street and it looked lost. The lady’s address was on the collar, so I took him there. She gave me 20 bucks. It was only a few blocks over; you know the big houses in the cul-de-sac? And the dog was really friendly.

(Ankle appears on stage in a similar costume, but this one is white with a few black spots, almost like a Dalmatian, and Day leads him aside, away from the sign and the bus stop, to a wealthy looking woman at the edge of the stage. She gives him the 20 dollar bill. Day walks back over to Amy to finish his story. Ankle stays put.)

Day: Turns out, though, her husband was supposed to be walking him. He got to the house a few minutes after I got there and started yelling at me about taking the dog.

(A man in a trench coat and top hat, with surprisingly long grey hair, appears on stage next to the woman and Ankle. The orchestra’s strings turn ominous.)

The Man (yells): WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? WHY? WHY?! (A crash symbol disguises the word “fuck.”)

(The woman opens her mouth as if to speak.)

The Man (yells): SHUT UP.

Day: I explained that I saw the dog without a leash on our street and he went ballistic.

(The man hits Ankle on the back of the head.)

He called me a liar, so I left.

(Day shrugs.)

Amy: Why didn’t you tell us?

Day: I’m not sure, but I wanted the money. Go home, Amy.

(She sniffles, nods, leaves. The man, woman, and Ankle leave. The curtain closes.)

Act IV

(Day is in the back of a yellow taxi cut-out in the corner of the stage. The driver has on a driving cap, driving gloves, a leather jacket, a scarf, and sunglasses. He seems so professional at a glance, but is warm, personable, and at times a little too blunt once you’ve got to know him. Center stage, a flickering streetlamp.)

Day: Can’t you just circle around a few more times? ‘

Cab Driver (strong New New Jersey accent): Look kid, I appreciate what you’re doin’, I really do, or I wouldn’ta offered to help yas, but you gotta’ understand. Normally, I get paid for this. Look, it’s been an hour, okay? How’s abouts you call it a day before somethin’ bad happens. This isn’t the kind of place you wanna’ hang around at night. YaknowwhatImean?

Day (downtrodden): I understand. If you could just let me out around here…

Cab Driver: Woah, woah, woah, you don’t want me to take you back to the station?

Day: No. I’m gonna keep looking. I’ll walk back later when I’m done.

Cab Driver: My God, kid, it’s a few miles from here to the station, and there’s no way you make it back before the last bus. I can’t just let you do that. Look, let me just park somewhere, stop burning gas, and I’ll help yous look around on foot for a little bit. But I’m gonna drive you back to the station in time for the 9:30 bus, you got that?

Day (fortunate, but too focused to notice):

That’s a fair deal.

(They drop the cut out and head over to the streetlight. The cab driver can’t believe that this is the second time he’s helped out returning somebody else’s kid in less than a week. Maybe he’s too nice. He shakes off the thought; anybody would’ve done the same in his shoes, or should do, rather.)

Day (he’s calling out for the boy like he’s looking for a lost dog, hands cupped around his mouth): Dutch?! Dutch?!

Cab Driver: Alrights, that’s enough, we gotta get yous home kid. Look, you tried, okay?

(They hear gunfire ring out in the distance. A little kid, presumably Dutch, dressed in white, staggers onto the stage, clutching at the bleeding wound on his torso. He collapses to the ground at the feet of the Cab Driver and Day. Lights dim.)

Day: It just isn’t fair…

Chorus: It just isn’t fair…

Day: What justice is there?

Chorus: Justice is there…

Day: You look and you look,
And what do you find

Chorus: You look and you look

Day: Eyes all around
But they’re all turning blind

Cab Driver (mutters): Untrue.

Chorus (split into two sections, tenors and bass: jazz swing):

(tenors): Ignorance
(bass): Bliss.
(tenors): Ignorance.
(bass): Bliss.

(The cab driver pulls Day away, reluctantly, by his arm. The chorus continues, quiet.)

Cab Driver: Come on, son, let’s get yous home.

Day (yanks his arm back, addresses the audience, crying):

Did I find what I was looking for? Did you?

(He waits, as if for a response, long enough that it’s awkward, before walking off with the Cab Driver, ashamed.)

(The curtain doesn’t close. Dutch’s lifeless body remains on stage as the lights return for the audience and people start to exit. The chorus continues their chant. As people leave the theatre, they find the family (Abigail, Louis, Day, Amy, Ankle) still in character, back in their den, the set rebuilt in the theatre lobby. They’re all sat on the yellow couch, Ankle beside them, watching a static TV.)      

***

For all installments from 30 Birds, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. “Velvet” by the Bloody Eyes
  2. “Subtle” by Yukio Mishima
  3. “Geronimo Sunset!” by Jun. 27
  4. “My Hero” by Annie Wonoffate Million
  5. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 1
  6. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 2
  7. “Eel Dogs ‘Til Stupid” by Jun. 27
  8. “Pleasant Town” by Jun. 27
  9. “Daffy” by Herman Barker
  10. “Classic, Ecstatic, and Shocked (My First Kiss)” by John Robert Barnes
  11. I Would/Would I?/Wouldn’t You?
  12. “Fabled” by Jun. 27
  13. “Simpatico Starring Matthew McConaughey” by Harrison Ford
  14. “Tarantella” by Jun. 27
  15. “That Time a Toucan Was in Our Backyard/The Very First Thing I Can Remember” by John Robert Barnes
  16. “Gutwrenching (Sadism in Palindrome)” by the Bloody Eyes
  17. “Maraschino” by John Robert Barnes
  18. “Church and God” by John Robert Barnes
  19. “And a Phanta?smagoria” by John Robert Barnes
  20. “Velvet (Cont’d)” by the Bloody Eyes
  21. “Magnanimous Magpies” by the Bloody Eyes