Bring out your dead: My radio play

TRIVIAL PURSUIT
(or Requiem for the Hornblooms)
A Radio Play in Three Acts
By
Jincy Willett
SIX CHARACTERS:
Fred & Ethel (couple in their sixties or seventies)
Buck & Penny,
Randy & Alice (young academics)

Act One

(sounds of cutlery on china, people eating)

Ethel: Pork balls?
Buck: Oh, I couldn’t.
Ethel: Potato puffs?
Randy, Alice: Really, no.
Ethel: Who wants more pork balls? Speak up, kids. Lets don’t be shy.
Buck, Penny: Oh, no, honestly, I’m full, etc.
Fred: Ethel goes hog wild for company.
Ethel: Oh, Fred.
Alice: What do you call this casserole, Mrs. Mertz?
Randy: (urgent whisper) Murgatroyd!
Ethel: (laughing) Everybody makes that mistake! Don’t they, honey? But Alice, you mustn’t be so formal.
Fred: Ain’t neighborly.
Ethel: Fred and me are experts on making new friends in a hurry, and you don’t do that by standing on ceremony. You don’t do that by sticking to Mrs. This and Mr. That.
Fred: Politeness kills.
Alice: Oh, of course you’re right. Ethel.
Ethel: Vegetable rummage!
Alice: I beg your pardon?
Ethel: The name of my casserole. I call it Vegetable Rummage. Men love it.
Randy: So. You two move around a lot, I take it.
Fred: Yes, Randy. We’ve lived just about everywhere in the contiguous forty-eight.
Ethel: Except the Northwest.
Fred: Made our homes in twenty-seven states.
Ethel: And Kingston, Ontario!
Randy: What do you do, Fred?
Fred: Strictly U-Haul. Professional movers are crooks. Plus they smash hell out of your knickknacks.
Randy: Sorry. I meant, what do you do for a living?
Fred: I’m retired, Randy.
(long pause)
Penny: Well! Do you think you’ll maybe stay here a while? Put down roots, as they say?
Ethel: Its a lovely area. So nice and quiet, just the way we like it. And weve never lived among university people before. I expect we’ll get a lot of culture off you kids.
Fred: No. What about those two in Biloxi? Ernie and Corinne Something. Horn. Horner.
Ethel: Oh, he just taught high school. He wasn’t a real professor.
Fred: Hornington? What the hell was it? Hornberry?
Ethel: It’ll come to me. They were sweet though. Redheads.
Fred: Fine neighbors.
Ethel: Lots of fun.
Fred: Hell, yes. We had fun with those two. Hornbloom? Shoot, that’s gonna drive me nuts.
Ethel: Well, while you’re doing that, you can help me clear the table. Penny, Alice, you just stay right where you are. Fred’ll help me in the kitchen. You kids just pass the bottle around and digest your meal.
(sounds of clearing up)
Buck: Sure was a fine meal, Ethel.
Others: (concurring sounds)
Ethel: We’ll be back in two shakes.
(sound of receding footsteps)
Fred: (from a distance) Hornbottle.
Ethel: (from a distance) Hornbostel!
Fred: (from a distance) Hornbostel!
(sound of closing door)
Buck: (lowered voice) We’re in hell. Get it? We’re all dead, only we don’t know it yet, and we’ve gone to hell. Continue reading