This is a work in progress that I started a long time ago. I might not get back to it so I decided to share as it. It’s a three act play.

THE LION HOUSE

by

Bob Brown

Stage is set with two park benches facing front about 120 degrees angled to one another and about six feet apart. A rail is between the benches and the audience. Audience is the lion house. At appropriate times, when actors are “looking at the lions” eye contact should be made with the audience to emphasize dialogue.

ACT I

Opens with empty benches. After about one minute Mort, an old man, enters with lunch bag, places it on left bench and moves to rail.

Mort

Don’t you bastards ever do anything?

(Returns to bench and fusses with lunch bag. Looks at lion house. Enter second old man who moves to second bench.)

Al 1

Hello Mort.

Mort

Good Morning Al. How are you this morning?

Al 1

(Going through nicer bag and lunch)

Same as always. How about yourself?

Mort

Read the obits again this morning. As long as I can

read them I figure I’m okay.

Al 1

That’s an old joke. And anyway it’s you didn’t see your name in them and that’s why you get up. Do you know any new ones. Ones that you can get right?

Mort

I do things the way I want to do things and anyway

where would I hear anything new?

Al 1

I heard one from my son in law. I’m not sure why he

told it to me. Maybe he thinks it will make me want

to move to a retirement village, I don’t know. Anyway,

these two ladies at the old folks home were getting

bored. Then they noticed two old guys sitting on the

front porch…

Mort

Maybe he meant two old guys sitting at the zoo.

Al 1

….anyway the two ladies decided to streak the old men

sitting in their chairs. So they take off all their

clothes and run as fast as they can by the porch.

Startled, the one guy elbows the other and says, “did

you see that? What was it?” And the other guy says,

“I don’t know, but whatever it was, it sure needed

ironing.”

Mort

I hate old people jokes. That’s one of the reasons I

come here to get away from all that old people crap

that goes on.

(Al begins to shake his head with a little smile and chuckle. From off stage a woman’s voice “Grampa. You know it will be cold. Take a warm sweater with you.” Al 1 daughter walks on stage from stage rt behind bench-BB)

Al 1 Daughter

I hope you like your lunch. Dinner will be early

tonight because Tom has to take Ryan to baseball

practice. Bye Grampa. (Waves) Have a nice time.

(Exits. Al tugs sweater closer around himself. A young couple enter and walk to the rail.)

Young Woman  1

Look at those beasts. Aren’t they magnificent?

So beautiful and so strong.

Young Man 1

Sure hate to be in there. Wouldn’t last five seconds.

(Both watch for a moment and exit. The two men look at the lions

for a while.)

Mort

Simba wouldn’t hurt a fly. Helen is the one I’d worry

about. Watch out for the lioness. They’re the ones that

do the hunting. The males are like us. Always sitting

around on their hind ends.

Al 1

They hunt in packs you know. No, it’s not packs I

always forget the word. …Prides. They hunt in prides.

That’s a good name. Prides.

Mort

These animals don’t hunt. They don’t do anything. They

just wait for suppertime.

(The two watch the lions)

Al 1

You’re not afraid of Simba?

Mort

Hell no. I’m out here and he’s in there. That’s why

they got the walls for God’s sake. Not much can scare

me any more anyway.

Al 1

I’m sure you’ve had your times of a tight collar and

when you almost peed all over yourself.

(Boy Mort in ill fitting suit enters behind bench (BB) carrying 3×5 cards. Stands uncomfortably and presents awkwardly)

Boy Mort

Welcome parents, faculty, friends and fellow graduates.

On behalf of the Washington High School graduating

class of 1935, I bid you welcome. Over the past four

years we have strived to learn what is necessary to

begin our careers and take our rightful place in

society. A few of our best are going on to college.

Some of us to the service. Many will become homemakers.

No matter what our eventual place, we will work hard to

honor our God given potential to make the world a

better place. And no matter where in it we may roam we

will always think of Washington High School as our

home. Welcome and thank you. (Boy Mort makes awkward

bow and exits)

Al 1

I don’t think that I’ve ever heard Simba roar. You ever

heard him?

Mort

I don’t know. Not that I can think of. He must have

sometime. He’s a lion for crying out loud.

Al 1

Sometimes I wonder if they forget to roar being in the

Zoo as they are. Why bother roaring? It doesn’t mean

anything.

Mort

Not to the visitors. ‘Cept maybe to scare them for a

moment. Then they can coo and crow about how ferocious

the lions are before moving on the monkeys or

elephants….Course it probably means something to the

other lions in there.

(A young man with earring walks to the rail and looks at the lions. Both watch him until he exits.)

Mort

Do you understand that?

Al 1

Understand what?

Mort

Why someone would dress like that.

Al 1

Like that young fellow?

Mort

How did you know it was a fellow? He or she or it had

long hair and an earring for God’s sake.

Al 1

It was a fellow. I can still tell by the shape. At

least I hope I can still tell by the shape. God knows

what you surgeons are up to these days.

Mort

Forget the surgeons. That guy, and I use the term

loosely, had an earring. You got an earring?

Al 1

No. Tried one once. Kept making a buzzing in my hearing

aid. So I switched to a tattoo…on my butt. A butterfly.

Quite nice actually. Want to see it?

Mort

No I don’t want to see it. But I don’t understand the

earring. We did crazy things, but not like that.

Al 1

What kind of crazy things did you do? Wear especially

loud plaid slacks once playing golf?

Mort

We wouldn’t go around dressing like girls.

Al 1

Yes, but if all the boys are doing it, how is it

dressing like girls?

Mort

There are some things for ladies and some for men.

That is what keeps the world interesting. ‘Vive la

difference’. Make things the same and you make them

boring.  Men wearing earrings, women wearing pants,

cars all looking the same. Everybody in the world

eats hamburgers and drinks cokes. There’s nothing wrong

with differences. What do you get if you combined all

the colors of the rainbow? Brown crap, that’s what.

Political correctness, brown crap. Only English taught

in schools, brown crap. Don’t get me started on schools.

Giving good grades so you don’t hurt someone’s feelings.

More brown crap. The world’s going to homogenized brown

crap hell.

Al 1

You know Mort, you are a monitor. You are a zoo

monitor and a city monitor and a world monitor.

Mort

I know what I like and I know what is decent. I’ll

admit that I have a hard time being modern, especially

(More)

when modern means crap. I always tried to do things

right and not mess up the other guy. His parents are

probably going nuts, if he has any or one or three or

how ever many they have these days. That kid doesn’t

care who he bothers.

Al 1

Now you’re a mind reader. I’ll bet if you were fifteen

again you’d have two earrings and a tattoo of a spider.

Two, you’d have two tattoos, one on each cheek.

Mort

If I were fifteen again knowing what I know now

I wouldn’t live long enough to see sixteen.

Al 1

It’s harder for them than it was for us. The drugs,

AIDS, kids carrying guns to school. There doesn’t seem

to be much rhyme or reason to the world they live in.

Mort

Our world had rules to follow. Solid rules of what was

right and what was wrong, and we followed them.

Al 1

You’re right. We had things we were supposed to do

and not do and most of us were too scared to get

into too much trouble. Kids today got trouble. We

were afraid of a whipping. These kids today gotta worry

about dying.

Mort

When you’re a kid you’re going to live forever.

They don’t know about ending up on a park bench.

Al 1

Mort, this isn’t so bad is it? We got the lions, and I

have you to tell me how the world should be run, just

(More)

in case I meet God soon so I can give him some of your

advice. (Looks at the lion house) I sometimes wonder

how it is for them.

Mort

They’re like kids, I don’t think they know any

different. Their whole world is tiny, the

concrete wall, the bars and us.

Al 1

(Suddenly irritated)

Yeah, and you’re right about us. Our whole

world is these benches, the bars and them.

Mort

(Surprised)

Having a little gas pain Al?

Al 1

No….No…

(More)

(The two watch the lions)

….I don’t like it when my son in law takes my

grandson to baseball practice. I want to take him

there sometimes. They think that there’s no place for

me to sit. I could stand and watch okay. I don’t know

what they’re thinking. Well, no. That’s the

trouble. I do know what they’re thinking. They’re

thinking about me. I don’t like it. But I don’t want to

put up a fuss.

Mort

They’re just looking out for you.

Al 1

I know.

(Sound of gun fire, bombs, etc. in background. Fades

then voice, “Presented to Private First Class, Alex E. Williams, for gallantry and bravery beyond the call of duty, The United States Silver Star. And for wounds suffered during the course of battle, the Purple Heart.”)

Al 1

It bothers me to be taken care of. You know, it isn’t

bad to be taken care of by someone if you can take care

of them back.

Mort

You’ve earned your rest.

Al 1

Mort, you know as well as I do, I didn’t work in

order to earn a rest.

Mort

So get a job.

Al 1

(Sighs)

Mort

Hey. They need help at the peanut stand. And you could

pick up good tips if you did a credible job as a wash

room attendant.

Al 1

I’m serious, Mort. We’re as bad as those animals in

there.

Mort

That bit about your grandson’s baseball really got to

you, huh?

Al 1

Yeah. I guess it did. I feel like I’m permanently

benched in the game of life.

Mort

Can’t play the game forever.

Al 1

Mort the philosopher.

Mort

So what would you change?

Al 1

What would I do over?

Mort

Nah. That’s an exercise in self flagellation and we’d

probably blow it again anyway. No. What I mean is

what would you change now? That’s all we got.

Al 1

I’d have them listen to me. How do you get them to

listen?

Mort

Don’t talk so much. Especially with your mouth full.

You’ll look like your senile. Don’t know so much

either. People tend to ignore somebody who always has

done it before. That’s one of the problems of being

old. We already have done what they think is brand new.

Don’t criticize…..

Al 1

I never criticize. I never say anything.

Mort

Well, when you do say something, it’s probably

something fifty years old.

Al 1

Well. That’s probably true. We both don’t do much but

live in the past.

Mort

What do you mean we…..?

A third old man enters (Al 2) looking for a place to sit. Sits next to Al 1 and nods to Al 1 as he sits.

Al 1

I sure have been complaining like an old man today.

Mort

I think it’s tough to be left out. You have a right

to be angry.

Al 1

Mort, do you think we’ve become old farts?

Mort

Old farts are people who sit around not doing anything

because they have nothing to do. We sit here in front

of the lion house and we talk. So we are not old farts.

We are…observers of nature, human and otherwise.

Al 1

We are contemplators of life and the states of being

human.

Mort

We sit here and measure society’s progress or lack of

it.

Al 1

Our job is to think.

Mort

We are the guardians of wisdom for our generation and

the guiding light for the ones that follow.

Al 2

We’re old farts.

(Al 1 and Mort look at Al 2 in surprise)

Al 1

I’m Al Williams.

Al 2

Hi. My name is Al too.

Al 1

I’m sorry. You’re name is Alton?

Al 2

No. My name is Al too. Al. Same as yours.

Al 1

Oh. Al. Nice to meet you.

Al 2

Same here.

Al 1

And this is my friend Mort.

Al 2

Mort.

(Mort waves his hand. The three look at the lions.)

Al 1

(To Al 2)

Old farts?

Al 2

I had to say something. And we are old farts.

At least I am.

Al 1

So what makes you one?

Al 2

I’m an old fart because I’m old. That’s the first

thing. And I’m a fart because I’m a lot of hot air and

get waved away all the time. Sounds like a fart to me.

And I’m probably smelly too, though I don’t know that

for sure.

Al 1

You get kicked out of the house too?

Al 2

No, no. I live by myself. I just decided to come and

look at the animals.

Mort

Well, you’re looking at them.

(The three look at the lions.)

(From right a Young Al 2 and Young Sarah enter BB hand in hand obviously in love)

Young Al 2

(goes on bended knee)

Sarah, will you marry me?

Young Sarah

Oh, Alan. I’d be the happiest woman on earth

to be your wife.

(They embrace. He reaches in his coat for the ring. gives it to her. Another embrace.)

Young Al 2

I don’t have much money.

Young Sarah

Al, all we need is us. I love you.

(Both exit. Doctor 1 enters. BB)

Doctor 1

I’m sorry but the cancer has spread. There is nothing

more we can do. She would like to go home. I think

that’s a good idea. (Doctor exits)

Al 1

I live with my daughter and her family.

Al 2

That’s nice. Any grandkids?

Al 1

Yes! Two. A boy and a girl. Just perfect. The boy is 16

and a real charmer with the girls and plays sports. My

granddaughter is 12 and I think she is beautiful. I’m

her grandfather but she is beautiful anyway.

Mort

I didn’t know she was twelve.

Al 1

Yep. Junior high school next year.

Mort

Maybe we are old farts.

Al 1

I don’t want to be an old fart. I was never one before.

No reason to start being one now. Though I think my

daughter thinks I’m an old fart.

Mort

I think an old fart is anyone whose children tell him

what to do and he is fool enough to listen to them.

Al 2

I don’t know. I’m an old fart and I don’t have

children.

Mort

You don’t have to have kids of your own, just be old

and believe that you’re supposed to do what young

people tell you to do. What kind of a life is that? No

wonder we sit on a bench all day.

Al 1

I never thought I would get old. I still don’t think

I’m old. Other people think I’m old but they don’t know

me.

Al 2

You are what you do. What do you do?

Al 1

I try to stay out of the way of my family. I try not

to hurt too much when the weather is bad. I try

not to be dead and from today on I’m going to try to

say things so that people don’t say “there he goes

again with another story.”

Al 2

Yeah. The rules change when you get old. It’s no longer

work and taking care of things, to produce

something and get ahead. Now it’s don’t fall too far

behind. We should be doing something worthwhile with

our time.

Mort

We did. Now we have time to think about it.

(The three look at the lions)

Al 1

I wish it were different.

Mort

That’s why we’re old farts.

Al 2

That’s the curse of being human.

Mort

What do you mean?

Al 2

Dreams. The human curse is that we remember our dreams.

Al 1

I think Simba’s awake.

Mort

I think he just turned over.

Al 1

Yeah, you’re right.

(Two couples enter and look at the lions. Get bored and exit.

Doctor 1 enters. BB)

Doctor 1

I’m afraid we can’t do anything more. Why don’t

you take her home. (Exits)

Al 1

He isn’t awake?

Mort

I don’t think so. I think he’s just moving in his sleep.

(Doctor enters BB)

Doctor 1

There is nothing more we can do. I’m sorry. There is

nothing more we can do. Nothing more we can do. (Exits)

Al 1

I think he’s awake. Don’t you think he’s awake?

Mort

Ah. It’s hard to tell. I don’t know.

Al 1

Al, what did you do in the old days to make an honest living?

Al 2

I was a finish carpenter. Worked on houses, did some

cabinets, a little furniture at times. Forty years,

then I retired.

Al 1

I can tell you’re from the Midwest. Chicago?

Al 2

Milwaukee. But that’s pretty good.

Al 1

Actually I can’t tell. Just guessing. If you say the

Midwest or a large place like Chicago you have a good

chance of at least being close and you can sound like

you know what you’re talking about. Milwaukee?

Al 2

All my life.

Al 1

‘Till now.

Al 2

Now I’m in front of the lion house.

Mort

Better than being in it.

(The three watch the lions)

Mort

(To Al 2)

Do you like being retired?

Al 2

Love it. From the first day I never missed it. The work

was getting sloppy anyway. No one cared about doing a

good job any more. Get it done quicker and quicker.

Then maybe I was just going slower and slower. How

’bout yourself?

Al 1

(Laughs)

Mort

Al thinks I didn’t do anything. I was a doctor and

according to our friend here, “God heals while the

doctor collects the fee.”

Al 2

Any kind of specialty?

Mort

Surgery.

Al 2

(Impressed)

Ahh.

(Doctor 1 enters BB)

Doctor 1

I’m sorry. The cancer has spread. There is nothing

more we can do. She would like to go home. (Exits)

Al 2

Ever do cancer surgeries?

Mort

Yeah, lots. Lots of stomach and bowel. Sometimes it was

quite involved. Surgery called the Whipple procedure

removed most of the insides and didn’t leave the person

much of a chance. But that was all that could be done sometimes.

Al 1

Not to change the subject, but Simba’s awake now. Look

at him strut.

Mort

Lions don’t strut. They prowl.

Al 1

Simba ain’t prowling. There is nothing to prowl anyway.

That guy is strutting.  He’s the king of beasts!

Mort

I hate to differ with you, but no one, not even the

king of beasts can strut in a circle. If you don’t

agree it’s a prowl then we’ll just have to make up a

new term for what lions do when they’re in a zoo.

Al 2

I like that idea. ….Why don’t we call it “schowling.”

Mort

“Schowling?”

Al 2

Yeah. A combination of showing off and prowling.

Mort

First old fart and now you come up with schowling.

Al 2

I like playing with words and expressions.

Al 1

How about an expression for us?

Al 2

Like for old farts sitting on a bench at the zoo?

Al 1

Yeah. For us right now.

Al 2

What’s wrong with old farts?

Al 1

I believe that Mort and I would like something

a little more dignified.

Al 2

Alright. How about “avid zoologists” A to Z.

Mort

Naw. Too cute. And it doesn’t really describe

the high caliber of our presence here.

Al 2

Okay. How about……

Al 1

Simba’s flopped down again. He must sleep twenty

hours a day.

Mort

They sleep a lot in the wild too, I understand.

Al 1

Well gentlemen. If you will excuse me a moment, nature

calls. (Looks at Al 2) That’s one of the reasons we

watch the lions instead of the monkeys or something

else. The bathroom is just over there. (Points) I can

also take orders for coffee.  That’s the other reason

why we sit here. Can I get you any? (Gets up)

Al 2

No thanks.

Al 1

Mort?

Mort

No thank you.

(Al 1 exits. Mort and Al 2 watch the lions)

Al 2

He’s a very nice fellow.

Mort

He sure is. He’s been sitting here looking at the

lions since before I arrived. Lives with his daughter

and her kids.

Al 2

You have any children Mort?

Mort

Yes. Three. Two boys and a girl. All grown of course

and all happily married as far as I can tell. At least

I think so. There are no grandchildren yet to prove

that they even sleep together. My daughter’s like

all the rest, career first then talk about children.

Al 2

How long have you been married?

Mort

Forty years next…..next year. You married? No, you

said you lived alone.

Al 2

I was. I lost her a few months ago.

Mort

Oh. I’m sorry.

Al 2

Thank you….She had cancer and they said that

they couldn’t do any more.

Mort

…..Sometimes there isn’t much that can be done.

(Enter young  Mort and Mort wife BB. Begin dancing. After a while Mort wife leaves. Then a nurse enters.)

Young Mort

You certainly are what the doctor ordered.

They dance a while.

Young Mort

My wife doesn’t understand me.

Nurse

I understand you.

Young Mort

(He rubs her)

You sure do.

Nurse

Ahh. The hands of a surgeon.

(She exits. Young Mort stands alone)

Mort

(sighs)

Woman 2 enters BB embraces Young Mort.

Woman 2

I didn’t know you did this sort of thing.

Young Mort

I don’t. Usually.

(They exit)

Mort

(Sighs and shakes his head)

Al 2

Do you come here a lot?

Mort

Have to be some place. May as well be here.

Al 2

Al too?

Mort

As far as I know. I don’t think he ever misses

a day. Maybe his daughter really does kick him

out of the house.

Al 2

And you come here everyday?

Mort

Just about.

Al 2

I would never have thought of coming to a place

like this every day. In fact, I haven’t been to the

zoo in years. They sure have changed. The cages are

a lot bigger and nicer. The places look as

natural as they can make them I guess.

Mort

I’ve thought about that. I don’t know if the old way of

calling it like it is isn’t better. “Hey buddy, you got

nabbed and you’re in for a life term, better get used

to it.” Or what they do now. “Hey, we took you from

your natural setting so we could save you from us, but

we want you to pretend that your are still back where

your natural habitat would have been. See, we have

provided you with fake rocks and trees and everything.”

The animals are here. I’m not sure for what good, and

we’re here too.

Al 2

I was just thinking. It’s interesting that you were

a surgeon and I was a carpenter. There are some

similarities between the two.

Mort

Like what? Cutting and putting together again?

Al 2

Something like that.

Mort

Well. I don’t know. I had to deal with cutting layers

of skin, fat, muscle. Avoid nerve damage. Deal with

bleeding, pain, shock to the system. If things went

(More)

wrong I had to stay there until they were put

right. I could do a good job and the patient wouldn’t

get better. I think working with wood was a bit less

complicated.

Al 2

Oh. I didn’t mean from a technical standpoint. Don’t

get me wrong. You guys have far and above more training

and responsibility and certainly technical skill.

What I meant was the satisfaction of creating

something. Making something good. Like when I could

take a plain piece of wood and make something

beautiful.

Mort

Oh, yeah. That was certainly there. The feeling

of a job well done and somebody getting better.

Al 2

What do you do if it rains or gets cold?

Mort

See that enclosure over there? (Points) We sit in there

and look out.

Al 2

So on bad days you look out at the animals looking

out. And the animals are looking out at you looking

out.

Mort

Well. I hadn’t thought of it quite that way but I

suppose we do. I hope no Martians fly by on those days.

They wouldn’t understand what a zoo was.

(Al returns and sits in same spot)

Al 1

Ahhhh. I feel better.

Mort

I was just telling Al about what we do in bad weather.

Al 1

Did you tell him about that storm we were in last year?

Mort

Nah. I figured if he comes here often enough he’ll

have the pleasure of that experience himself.

Al 1

You’re a wise man Mort. You can’t describe a storm

as well as it can be experienced. At least I couldn’t

describe it very well. The wind was howling so much,

the rain beating down sideways…..

Mort

I thought you just said it had to be experienced?

Al 1

You’re right. I just was remembering and getting

carried away as usual.

(The three look at the lions)

Al 2

Al, Mort said that you come here everyday.

Al 1

Yep. My daughter doesn’t want me cluttering up

the house. I suppose I could go to the library

or some other place.

Mort

Or get a good job.

Al 1

…Or get a good paying job. But I’ve been coming

here for a long time. And Mort comes almost

everyday. It’s a nice place.

Al 2

I think I’d get bored.

Al 1

That’s what my daughter thinks. She wonders how

I can come here everyday. Any place can get boring.

Some people I know play golf or bridge everyday. Some

people go to work everyday. What’s the difference

in coming here?

Mort

It’s all in what you want from your time.

Al 1

We were talking earlier about just sitting, being like

an old caged lion with nothing that he needed to do.

Would seem like you were rich if you had all of

your wants satisfied.

Mort

Nah. With all of their needs taken care of. That’s

what the lions have. None of their wants.

Al 2

So you two sit on the bench thinking about being old.

Al 1

Somebody has to. And maybe we’ll be the ones

to figure out the solution.

Mort

As soon as we figure out the problem.

Al 1

We know the problem. It’s us. We don’t

have any work to do any more.

Mort

That’s what retirement is, Mr. Wizard of the obvious.

Al 1

No. No. That’s not what I’m thinking. Retirement

means that you have finished something. Not

finished everything. We have the responsibility

of choosing the right thing to do next, and maybe last.

Mort

And is there a right thing?

Al 1

You just told me that it is to avoid telling

any more stories and to never speak

with my mouth full.

Al 2

If you will permit me, I believe the task is

to make sense of it all while we have the

leisure time to look at it, and the supposed

experience to judge well. Age makes your eyes

bad, but for a while we have the best vision.

Mort

What, if in the last analysis, it’s all a pile

of lion shit. Then where are you?

Al 1

(To Al 2)

See? Doesn’t sitting in front of the lion house make sense?

Mort

He could tell us that this is all meaningless dribble.

Al 2

I wouldn’t say that, even if I thought it.

Al 1

So are you thinking it?

Mort

He just said that he wouldn’t tell us even

if he thought it.

Al 2

I don’t know. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not.

Al 1

How are you going to decide?

(Doctor 1 enters BB.)

Doctor 1

…..There is nothing more we can do. Nothing more

we can do. Take her home. (Exits)

Al 2

I don’t know.

Curtain

Act II

Scene opens with empty benches. After one minute Mort arrives and goes through routine of inspecting his lunch.  He sits looking at the lions. A woman’s voice in the background

So go to your stupid zoo. I don’t need you for anything

around here anyway. Just remember to be home by

five. Your daughter is coming for dinner.

Enter behind bench Young Mort (YM) and his wife (YMW) each carrying a simple chair. They sit facing each other.

YMW

How could you?

YM

(Stands behind chair, moving it back)

I made a mistake. I was young. I didn’t mean anything.

My body controlled my mind.

YMW

What about your heart? Who controlled that?

YM

I gave it to you. You controlled my heart

(Sits in chair)

YMW

(Stands behind her chair)

You didn’t care about my feelings. Only about

your own. Your needs, not mine, not ours.

YM

I told you that I cared.

YMW

(Moves her chair back more)

You showed me that you didn’t care.

YM

I said I was sorry.

YMW

(Moving back more)

You did it again.

YM

(Standing behind his chair)

I was young and you never forgave me.

YMW

(Moving further away and almost shouting)

I needed you to love me. I was hurt, deeply.

YM

(Sitting)

I know……Why didn’t you forgive me?

YMW

I was hurt. And I was angry.

YM

I said I was sorry.

YMW

(Sitting)

I couldn’t trust you any more.

YM

(Standing)

How can I prove that something won’t happen again?

YMW

(Standing)

It shouldn’t have happened it the first place!

YM

It happened. What can I do?

YMW

I don’t know. I wish I did. Some things are permanent.

Both stand behind chairs looking at each other for a moment, then pick up their chairs and exit. Mort goes through bag and sighs. YM enters behind the bench with his chair and sits. YMW enters running and falls to her knees in front of YM.

YMW

Oh Mort. I’m so sorry for not forgiving you. It was all my fault.

YM

I forgive you.

(YMW climbs into his lap. They kiss then she jumps off and runs off stage.  She reenters shyly standing to the side. )

YMW

I’m sorry for not being forgiving. I promise to be better.

(YM opens his arms and she moves into his embrace.  Then she exits. Entering again in a moment with her arms open wide but is upstaged by Al‑1 entering stage right. YMW exits. After a moment YM exits.)

Al 1

(Sits on the other bench and goes through his bag)

Morning Mort.

Mort

Morning Al.

Al 1

So how’s life?

Mort

Same as always. Some bad, some good.

Al 1

(Pauses for a while, then blurts)

I got some bad. I found out Friday that I got the old

man’s disease. I got some prostate trouble.

Mort

Cancer?

Al 1

Don’t know yet.

Mort

It’s real treatable. Side effect is no more erections.

Al 1

Big deal. I don’t think I would recognize one anyway.

Mort

Are you worried?

Al 1

Naw. What worries me is that damn grandson of mine.

Mort

What? The young Einstein, the new Bo Jackson, the

budding bon vivant?

Al 1

That young bon vivant is turning into a Young

Frankenstein.

Mort

He’s a teenager. They all are young Frankensteins.

Al 1

He has no consideration for his sister. A friend of

hers called the other day. He answered the phone and

said “yes she’s home,” then left the phone off the

hook. He never told her that anyone had called!

Mort

So what happened?

Al 1

His mother got on him. But it was like he thought he

was being funny. He had no idea he was hurting his sister.

Mort

So you talked to him?

Al 1

No. I’ve kinda lost touch with him the past few months.

Maybe it’s been longer. He just thinks I’m an old man.

He loves grampa, but I think he’s forgotten who I am.

Mort

Naw. He’s a kid. Doesn’t know who he is himself. So

what do you know about the prostate?

Al 1

Nothing. Just some tests they gotta do.

Mort

Want me to fit you in? My schedule is open

and I take Medicare.

Al 1

No. I don’t want to talk about it. You’d just tell me

a bunch of medical mumbo jumbo anyway. I’ll be fine….

Has Simba done anything today?

Mort

Not that I have noticed…..Do you understand women Al?

(Enter  BB, YMW with chair, sits and listens)

Al 1

I was married over twenty five years.

Mort

So you don’t understand them either do you?

(YMW makes faces, hurt, exasperation, etc.)

Al 1

They sure are different. I can see it in my

granddaughter. In spite of all the things her brother

does, she still can be nice to him. (Laughs) But I

think she can get him into trouble her own way just

about anytime she wants to.

Mort

Women are reactors. Men start things and women react to

them. You could see it in your grandkids. He does

things that get him into trouble while she sits back

and decides how she wants to screw him over later. Am I

right?

Al 1

I don’t know. They’re not as strong so it’s not like

it’s a fair fight. Sounds like you have a point you

want to make.

Mort

Seems like women set it up so they can’t be blamed

for anything. Two people come to a fork in the road

. Don’t know which way to go. Man says “what the hell

let’s go left” and they get lost. She says, “You idiot!

Now look what you’ve done.”

Al 1

My wife always said we should’ve stopped and asked

for directions.

Mort

That’s my point. They never say “Oh. I should have

helped with the decision.” Because they know that they

couldn’t have done any better. Where are they when

somebody has to make a guess?

Al 1

Probably trying to find somebody who knows the right

answer.

Mort

Are you on my side or what?

Al 1

You brought it up. I think women are great.

Mort

Okay, I’ll bite. Besides getting a man’s blood to

flow out of his brains, what good are they?

Al 1

……So besides looking great and feeling nice……

Mort

…….and being Mothers….and daughters…..and

granddaughters…..

Al 1

What good are women………..

Mort

Just the idea of them. Pure and simple. Not so easy is it?

Al 1

I’m just trying to think of a way to put it so you would understand.

Mort

…..and don’t argue for anything that could be hired.

Like they’re good caretakers. I could hire a maid or

cook or anything else…..and I can get love from a

cocker spaniel.

Al 1

Well, when you rule out everything, it’s impossible

to find some value for them.

Mort

Ah. See. I told you so.

Al 1

All right. I still like them……even though I guess I

won’t be able to do much about it any more.

Mort

You’ll be okay.

Al 1

I’m not afraid of dying.

Mort

You’re not going to die.

Al 1

I’ve lived a nice full life. A few problems here and

there, but I’ve done all right. I never wanted to get

old…..and I seemed to have done so, haven’t I Mort?

Mort

Everybody gets old. But Al……you’re going to be

fine. If they do surgery, you’ll be up and out in a

month, two at the most.

Al 1

I never saw Crater Lake. In Oregon, I think. When I was

a kid, I always wanted to go see the giant old volcano

filled with cold deep blue water. Has an island in the

middle covered with trees. Did you know that? Never got

to see it.

Mort

Al, you don’t have to take an inventory. You’ll live to

drive me crazy for another twenty years.

Al 1

I don’t know if I want to. This thing has made me

think. Getting old was too easy, automatic you might

say. The body slows down while time speeds up and I

allowed myself to do less and less. I could go to

Crater Lake right now if I still wanted to. I could

decide that. But this thing is being done to me. It’s

not like I have a choice of having it or not.

Mort

I understand how you feel Al. I’ve seen it a lot. Most

often it’s a tempest in a tea pot. But it is scary

and depressing. You feel all alone.

Al 1

I do feel alone, even here, with my friend Mort.

Mort

It’s ironic isn’t it. Here I am a surgeon and all I can

do for you is pat you on the head and say “there there,

you’ll be all right.”

Al 1

I was wondering if I should bring it up. Then I blurt

it out.

Mort

Why wouldn’t you?

Al 1

Oh, you and me, we don’t talk about this sort of thing.

And it felt like I was giving in to talk about getting

sick. It’s boring when old people talk about aches and

pains, medicine and this and that surgery.

Mort

It’s reality. When you get old you fall apart.  Young

people talk about what they do; working and buying a

new car or house. That’s what’s important to them. Same

with us. Our big accomplishment is getting out of bed,

having a good bowel movement and getting to the drug

store to pick up our medicine. Same idea, different toys.

Al 1

I don’t want these particular toys.

Mort

Not much choice sometimes.

(Both watch the lions. Enter (BB) YM and Woman 2 dancing. YMW enters BB and watches.  Woman 2 exits.  YMW exits. YM stands alone. He pantomimes doing surgery. Faster and faster.  Finally runs out exit.)

Al 1

Where were you? Reminiscing about old toys?

Mort

Naw. Just drifting off. Thoughts wander all over the place.

Al 1

You know, it helps talking like this. I didn’t realize

I was so worried about this damned thing.

Mort

Didn’t you talk with your daughter?

Al 1

Not yet. I said it was my gall bladder. She tends

to overreact. I don’t even know anything yet. When I

know something definite, then I’ll tell her.

Mort

Yeah. It’s probably better to wait until you know

exactly what’s going on. She really worries about you

doesn’t she?

Al 1

Sure does. Like a mother hen. I wish she’d relax just a

little.

Mort

Well look who’s coming.

(Enter Al 2)

Al 1

Good morning sir. Becoming quite a regular aren’t we?

(Al 2 sits next to Al 1)

Al 2

Well good morning gentlemen. Thought I’d drop by and

say hello to the lions.

Mort

I’d say you’re averaging about every odd day. Which

probably makes sense given how odd we are.

Al 2

So what world shaking issues have been resolved so far

this morning?

Al 1

(Quickly)

The younger generation. How to prevent youth from

suffering from the lack of experience.

Al 2

Oh! Well….What’s the solution?

Mort

We don’t know.

Al 2

This is the “youth is wasted on the young” idea?

Al 1

Not so much that. My granddaughter is being tormented

by her brother‑‑and he seems completely insensitive

to what he is doing to her.

Al 2

Ah. I know what you mean.

Mort

It’s part of the life inoculation process. Like getting

a virus when you’re young keeps you well later when the

illness would be more serious. Learning how to deal

with life’s hurts from a brother helps later when it’s

somebody else.

Al 1

That’s quite a statement from a cut and paste physician.

Al 2

He’s right I think. Everything that happens prepares

you for later. What was that quote? “Anything that

doesn’t kill you is good for your character?”

Mort

And doesn’t it go, “Gee thanks God but ain’t I got

enough character yet?”

Al 1

I like the one, “No one knows what he knows until he

knows that he really doesn’t know what he knows.”

Mort

Good Grief.

Al 2

Socrates once said, “study science less and human

nature more.”

Mort

……..and…….?

Al 2

Well, It’s like the science of particle physics. When

you study something, you change its nature. With

people, the more you interact, the more you create

something new‑unknown and potentially beautiful.

Who knows what new universe we three can create here?

We can clone cells, even living animals. Think if we could

clone good manners, empathy, compassion. Can you imagine

what the world would be like if everyone was just five

percent nicer everyday?

Mort

You certainly have a way Dr Frankenstein. I think I’ll

stick with biological science and not get into social

engineering, if you don’t mind.

Al 1

Mort, you miss the point.

Mort

I’ll bite. What point did I miss?

Al 2

Allow me. Dr. Mort, we are suggesting that science,

which is basically measurement, misses the idea.

Science defines boundaries. Life, what we are talking

about, creates infinite space. We can do anything.

May as well do something good.

Mort

Don’t make me a science ogre. I have a heart. I was a

doctor using science to help people live another day. I

never bothered myself with what they might do, but I wanted to

give them a chance of doing it.

Al 1

As much as I tease you, Mort, for being a seamstress, I

do appreciate your skills and how you used them.

Mort

Thank you.

Al 2

Simba’s moving about.

Mort

Schowling did you say?

Al 2

(Laughs)

Yes I did. I have a new one for you. Paralining.

Al 1

“Paralining?”

Mort

“Paralining.”

Al 2

Yeah. It’s what you call the line you draw on a check

after you’ve written 00/100 dollars so that no one

writes four zeros in there and makes you bankrupt.

Paralining because you’re paranoid you have to

write out a line.

Al 1

Have you seen the bumper sticker “shit happens?”

Mort

It’s true.

Al 1

Yeah sure it’s true. But what an obnoxious way of

saying it.

Mort

Probably some kid thought it up. Got his shop teacher

to print up half a million copies.

Al 2

Kinda takes away the dignity of a person trying his

best to overcome life’s obstacles doesn’t it?

Al 1

I guess that’s what we were talking about. The young

haven’t had time to develop a sense of perspective.

Al 2

And us old people may have too much. Comes from seeing

a lot of things, maybe too many things.

Mort

Or absently mindedly misplacing it somewhere. It gets harder

and harder to see things from another’s point of view.

Al 2

You’ve probably seen that haven’t you? The doctors let

Sarah come home. I really appreciated that. They didn’t

have to, but they thought about it. Made a lot of difference

to me, and her.

Al 1

She died at home didn’t she?

Al 2

Yeah. I’m so glad I was there, but at the same time it was

the worst moment of my life and I wouldn’t have missed

it for the world.

Mort

Yeah. It’s strange isn’t it?

Al 2

Hey. Enough of this. I didn’t come here to talk about

sad things. This is the lion house, home of the king of

beasts.

Mort

Such as it is. Ole`. Simba flopped over.

Al 1

He’s resting up for later.

Al 2

I have a new joke

Mort

We’ve heard it.

Al 2

How do you know you’ve heard it?

Al 1

Al, all the jokes you have told us we’ve heard before.

Al 2

Yeah. But how do you know about this one?

Mort

Save it for next time. If we haven’t heard it by then,

then you can tell us.

Al 2

There’s a message in there somewhere.

Al 1

You can’t tell a joke. You’re good with names and

expressions and you seem to know a great deal about

physics.  You are bad with a joke.

Mort

A man must know his own measure.

Al 2

Guys, if you’ve heard the joke stop me.

Al 1

We’ve heard it.

Al 2

I could have told it twice by now.

Mort

You have, that’s what we’re telling you.

Al 2

(sighs)

(All look at the lion house. Enter YM Behind Bench)

YM

(Mild sarcastic anger to audience)

I’m sorry.

Enter Doctor 2 (BB)

Doctor 2

It’s cancer.

Enter Doctor 1 (BB)

Doctor 1

There’s nothing we can do.

All exit

Mort/Al 1/Al 2

(All talk at once)

Mort

That’s good. All silent then we all have something to say.

Al 2

Mort, what were you saying?

Mort

Actually nothing much.

Al 1

I was thinking about my grandson. Maybe he’s just going

through a phase. “Can’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Al 2

You know an expression that I could never figure out?

“Can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Never knew what

that meant. You have to have your cake before you can

eat it.

Mort

It’s was probably a mistranslation from the French or

maybe even Latin or Greek or something like that. You

know how everybody like to improve on things. But it is

kind of backward isn’t it. Should be “you can’t eat

your cake and still have it.”

Al 1

Reminds me of when I saved my favorite pair of wool

slacks. Most expensive pair of pants I ever owned. They

were so expensive and so wonderful that I wanted to

save them for a really special occasion. By the time

something special enough came up, moths had eaten a

million holes in them. I think that the expression

should be that you should eat your cake before your

doctor tells you to cut out sugar.

Al 2

Speaking of sugar, I was going to grab some coffee on

the way but thought I’d ask if anyone else wanted some.

Mort

None for me, thanks.

Al 1

Yes. I’d like some. Decaf, black please?

Al 2

You got it. Sure Mort?

Mort

Yep.

(Al 2 exits)

Al 1

Thanks for not mentioning my problem.

Mort

What’s to mention?

Al 1

Well, it’s a little embarrassing. And he lost his wife

to cancer and as you said, mine will probably, I hope,

turn out to be nothing.

Mort

I’m a retired doctor, not a full time blabber mouth.

Al 1

Well, thanks anyway. And, I figured out why women are

important.

Mort

Surprise me.

Al 1

Women are important because they buy you toothpaste.

Mort

Caretakers. We already ruled out maids, butlers,

slaves, concubines, massage therapists,

psychotherapists, cooks, bottle washers and stores that

deliver.

Al 1

Mort. I can so often rely on the strength of your

opinion weighing down your ability to think. A woman

doesn’t buy you toothpaste because you need it. She

buys the toothpaste because she wants you to have it.

Mort

Yeah. Exactly. That’s what they told me in the army.

“If you look for it you can find it. If you find it you

can get it. If you get it you’ve had it.” That, my dear

sir, is women.

Al 1

You have a negative attitude.

Mort

I’m a realist. Life is going from point A to point B.

Then figure out how to do it. The only thing women do

is want to make nice sandwiches for the trip. And

you’re expected to like whatever they make or it breaks

their little hearts.

Al 1

Nothing wrong with that, living from the heart.

Mort

Where would my patients be if I lived with my heart

when I practiced medicine? I’d open someone up and say,

“Nurse, this is hurting my feelings. Let’s get out of

here, relax and have a couple of beers.”

Al 1

Exaggeration of my point suggests you don’t have one of your own.

Mort

The point is there is no point.

Al 1

To what?

Mort

To all of this. Women are just people. Nothing special.

They think they have some special feeling, some moral

filter that puts them above us mere men. We do while

they sit back and judge and complain. Boy do they

complain. I will admit that they do most of the work

and they used to die young. Now they do most of the

work, live a hell of a long time and complain the whole

bit of it. That’s why we men die younger. We can’t

stand one more second of that holier than thou moaning

and groaning any more.

Al 1

You don’t mean that.

Mort

The hell I don’t. They think their standard is the universal

standard. Their mature while we’re children. What makes

them think their way is better? Women drive me crazy.

Al 1

My daughter drives me crazy. But she means well by

it…..I know, I know, the road to hell is paved with

good intentions. I have another thing for you. Getting

old is living on cliches rather than making up

something new on our own.

Mort

You certainly are full of piss and vinegar today.

You probably are full of piss. (Laughs) Sorry.

Al 1

Thanks.

Enter Al 2 with two cups of coffee

Al 2

Here we go. (Gives cup to Al 1)

Al 1

Great. Just what the doctor ordered.

Mort

Good grief.

Al 2

So. Where were we?

Mort

Simba just rolled over.

Al 2

Well. That’s a start.

Al 1

(Looks at Al 2)

How are you doing?

Al 2

I’m okay. I’m doing okay. Sometimes it’s real

hard. But it’s all right. What did I miss?

Al 1

We were talking about women.

Al 2

And did you decide anything?

Al 1

Yes. One for and one against.

Mort

You missed Al explaining that the use of cliches

is a sign of senility.

Al 2

(Looks at Al 1) Don’t you think it also could be a sign

of education and an expression of worldly knowledge?

Al 1

Sure. It’s only a sign of old age if Mort uses them.

Al 2

What are we going to do with him and his negative

attitude?

Mort

I’m a realist, not a cynic.

Al 2

What’s the difference?

Mort

Not so fast. Let me ask you a question. We’re talking

perspective, here. How do you define perspective, Mr.

word definition?

Al 2

Easy. Perspective is the same as wisdom.

Mort

Not so fast. Don’t just switch words around.

Define your terms.

Al 2

Wisdom. W I S D O M, and perspective, assuming good

perspective, is seeing things as they should be seen.

Mort

Hah! No. Wisdom, perception, reality…..is seeing

things the way they NEED to be seen.

Al 1

I don’t see much difference.

Al 2

I think we are discussing how many angels

can dance on the head of a pin. Forty thousand.

Mort

Hey. I make an important point and I get ignored

for crying out loud!

Al 1

Did we hurt your feelings Mort, Sorry.

Mort

Hell no….Well …You know…sometimes what we talk about

really is important to me. And you guys ignore it. You think

I’m just a crotchety sourpuss. That what I say means nothing.

Al 1

Like what?

Mort

Hell, it doesn’t matter.

Al 2

Sure it does

Al 1

Absolutely

Mort

It’s going to sound weird, especially coming from me.

Al 2

What? What can be too weird for the three of us?

Mort

When we talk about getting old. When you talk about

your Sarah. When you mention your daughter or

your grandchildren. Well….sometimes….I don’t feel it.

Al 1

You don’t care about our families?

Mort

No. I care about your families, of course I do. I know I

hide them. I’m guess I am the typical curmudgeon

of the county. No. Hell. This is weird. It’s hard to

explain. Sometimes I have feelings about something

and sometimes I don’t. Most of the time I don’t. It’s like

my feelings have been dead…..for a long time. Told

(More)

you it was weird. Let’s just forget about it. Sorry I

brought it up.

Al 1

I don’t understand.

Mort

(To Al 1)

What you are going through, Al losing his wife.

It makes me feel sad of course‑but not really. I just

know I should feel sad so I do. I don’t feel the real

feeling.

Al 2

I don’t get it either.

Mort

I don’t know. It’s like there’s a barrier or something I guess.

Al 1

You’ve always had a wall up. Long as I’ve known you.

We all have walls up.

Mort

This one feels different. I don’t know…..It’s almost

like it’s different. Like it’s permanent or something.

That’s the only reason I’m even bringing it up.

I don’t like talking about this kind of stuff.  But

it’s like a light slowly going out and I’m going to be

left in darkness and I don’t like that feeling.

Al 1

That does sound weird. Especially from you. Maybe

there is hope for you after all.

Curtain

Act III

(Both Mort and Al 2 sitting on benches)

Al 2

He’s not coming.

Mort

We can wait. We have time.

Al 2

I don’t think he’s coming. Why don’t you call him?

Mort

I can’t. He’ll show up.

Al 2

Why can’t you just call him?

Mort

I don’t know his number.

Al 2

No problem. Just look it up. Al Williams. Probably

four or five in the book. Cost you all of two bucks to

find him even if you have to call all of them.

Mort

Don’t you remember? He lives with his daughter. The

number is in her name. So we just have to wait.

Al 2

Mort.  I don’t know….He had that prostate.

Mort

If he had the surgery he’d be doing okay by now

and on his way back.

Al 2

Mort, what if he doesn’t come back? Is there any way

to find out? Do you know the doctors?

Mort

I didn’t practice here. Maybe I could call some

surgeons. I don’t know. The place just isn’t the

same without him. Sorry, no offence.

Al 2

(Laughs. Pats seat where Al 1 sat)

There is an empty space…. Makes me think of my Sarah.

Sometimes I wake up in the night and feel the emptiness

next to me. And I think of all the nights ahead of me.

In the dark I feel so alone. There is no warmth to move

toward, to hug, to touch.

Mort

It must be hard sometimes.

Al 2

When I think of her, it’s hard all the time.

Mort

Do you think Al will come back?

Al 2

No.

Mort

Why not?

Al 2

I think he’s dead.

Mort

How can you say that?

Al 2

If he was okay, he’d get word to us. His daughter,

his son in law. If he told them to let us know,

they’d do it.

Mort

Then all the more that they would let us know

if he wasn’t all right.

Al 2

Mort. Uncharacteristically, you’re reacting with your

feelings. If he has died, which I fear he has, we don’t

exist any more. His family doesn’t care about us. They

go on with their lives. “Grampa died. Now let’s move

our computer games into his old room.”

Mort

God, I miss him. I hope you’re wrong.

Al 2

Me too.

(Both watch the lions)

Mort

I hate this. I’m not watching the lions, I’m waiting

for Al to show up. Damn guy wasn’t ready to be old and

now he may be dead. (Looks at Al 2) He was my best

friend.

Al 2

That was pretty obvious.

Mort

I can’t call him. He didn’t tell me his doctor, the hospital….

Al 2

He didn’t know. He just stopped coming. He would have

told you.

Mort

I should have asked him. He had some idea of what was

going on.

Al 2

I don’t think he wanted to talk about it much.

(Enter Al 1  BB behind Mort)

Al 1

Hi Mort. I’m fine. Had the surgery. Be out of bed in no

time. Keep my seat warm. Mort, you’re the best pal a

guy could have. (Waves and exits)

Mort

I think he’s okay.

Al 2

Yeah.

(Both look at lion house. Enter Al 1, BB  with chair, sits behind Mort)

Mort

I’m having an attack of conscience here

. (Exit Al 1)

Al 2

How’s that?

Mort

I think I should have done more with Al.

Al 2

Like what? Play golf together?

Mort

Naw. He thought the game was stupid. I don’t know. What

do you do? We spent all that time in front of the lion

house. Just talking.

Al 2

That sounds nice. It got me coming back. You two had

a lot to talk about. The observers of nature you said one time.

Mort

Yeah. We did talk about how things have changed.

Few for the better.

Al 2

Talking’s nice. We’re retired. Why not take it easy

and enjoy life?

Mort

That’s what we said and I thought we were. Now it

doesn’t feel that way. I missed something.

Al 2

Maybe he’ll come back.

Mort

No. I think you’re right. He won’t be back. His family

would have contacted us if he were okay.

Al 2

So what did you talk about all that time together?

Mort

I don’t know any more. It all seems pointless now.

Sometimes we just sat, didn’t say anything.

Al 2

Alone in your thoughts. I know how that works.

Mort

Never felt alone actually. The mind would drift off,

then Al would say something or someone would walk by.

Al 2

I get lonely when my mind is brought back. My memories

include Sarah.

Mort

Is it good to remember?

Al 2

No. I get lonely when I remember and I get lonely when

I see myself now. If Al is dead, I wish it was this Al

and not the other one.

Mort

I wish I could help you feel better.

Al 2

You do, Mort. I would never have thought it, but

coming here has stopped me from going crazy.

Mort

(Lighter)

How can you tell?

Al 2

I forget to think about Sarah. I think about you,

about Al, the lions, some of the people we see.

Mort

The zoo is certainly a place to see strange creatures

of all kinds, isn’t it?

Al 2

The thought I’ve had lately is what people think about us.

Mort

The old farts in front of the lion house?

Al 2

Yeah. We’re an exhibition just like the lions. I wonder

what people think when they see us.

Mort

I’ll tell you. They think, “Wow, those old farts are

still here? I hope I have something better to do when

I get really old.”

Al 2

I think it’s more like “I sure hope I never get that old.”

Mort

It’s the same thing.

Al 2

Mort. It’s good that we have this place.

Mort

That’s what I thought before. But I don’t think so

any more. We warm a bench in front of the lion house.

When I was a surgeon, then I was good. How important is

a warm bench?

Al 2

Mort, I miss my Sarah. Talking to you helps me pass the

time. It gives me something to do. I know that

eventually I’ll feel better. Though I’m not sure I want

  1. But this gets me through the hard part. That’s important.

Mort

I’m sorry Al, I don’t mean to say that talking with you

means nothing. I appreciate that I can help you some.

You know what I’m saying. With your wife gone and maybe

Al never coming back, I lose the idea of what my life

is all about. My work meant something. Now when I get

up, my days work is to take food in at one end and let

it out at the other. Not a whole lot to that, could do

it in my sleep. I worry about doing that sometimes.

….and your idea about being on display. Sounds like

my meaning in life is to be a bad example for young

people. “Now Johnny, see that sad old man over there.

You go to school so you don’t end up like him.”

Little does she know.

Al 2

Mort, you’re not hearing me. What you are doing for

me now is important. You are helping me!

Mort

I guess I mean that I miss doing something that

was significant. Like what if a surgeon could have

saved your wife?

Al 2

Oh, God. I think about that all the time. What more

could have been done? Did we have the right doctor? Did

we do enough?

Mort

I’m sure everything was done that could be. But that’s

what I mean. Wouldn’t it mean something to have been

able to save her?

Al 2

It would have been everything.

(Both look at the lions. Enter Al 1 and YMW BB. Both sit in chairs side by side and holding hands. Then begin dancing together.)

Mort

Geese Louise!

(exit Al 1 and YMW)

Al 2

What?

Mort

Oh. Nothing. My thought process was just malfunctioning.

Al 2

Thinking. I like to think about thinking.

Mort

Al, you’re a strange bird. So what are your thoughts on thinking?

Al 2

I think thinking is overrated.

Mort

Descartes would disagree. If I remember my philosophy correctly.

Al 2

Ah, but he just talked about existence. He wasn’t

saying anything about essence.

Mort

Is this more of your nuclear physics stuff?

Al 2

You were talking about the meaning of life. The

existential philosophers say that existence precedes

essence. Thinking proves you exist. Big deal.

Everything living thing can do that.

Mort

I get it. The old, “you are what you do.” Just what we

were talking about and exactly what I believe.

Al 2

Maybe you are what you don’t do. Wouldn’t that be something,

judged by what we don’t get around to doing. I think, therefore

I am not.

Mort

Playing with words again are we?

Al 2

No. Maybe we’re on to something.

Mort

Yeah. The old farts version of group masturbation.

Massage an idea for a while, come to a conclusion and

that’s it. All done.

Al 2

Mort. That’s a pretty good metaphor from a doctor.

Mort

Thank you. I kinda liked that myself.

Al 2

Would you like a cigarette?

(Both watch the lions. A young couple walk by)

Al 2

Lot to be said for the young person’s way. Then you

really do need a cigarette.

(Enter YMW and Sarah BB. Each sit behind their man silent for

30 seconds. then Sarah leaves.)

Al 2

(Sighs. Fiddles with his lunch)

(Then after a short time YMW sighs, exits)

Mort

So thinking is over rated?

Al 2

Speaking of thinking, I want to talk about Al

for a minute.

Mort

What about?

Al 2

Did you think he was going to die?

Mort

It was a possibility.

Al 2

No. Not your medical opinion. Did you think…no.

Let me put it this way. Did you feel like he was

going to die?

Mort

We don’t know if he’s dead or not.

Al 2

I know. I hope he isn’t. But the question. Mort,

what was your feeling?

Mort

He was going to die.

(Both look at lions)

Al 2

Mort, I hope I’m not out of line. What stopped

you from doing something? Saying something to him?

Mort

(Angry) What was I supposed to do? Cut out the

damned cancer?  I couldn’t stop it. He was my friend

and I couldn’t do a God damned thing……I wanted to…

Al 2

….I think he knew that.

Mort

This stinks. We sit here. We talk. I get this feeling

in my gut, this crying out and where does it go? I sit

here on a God damned bench. And why? Because

it’s over. We sit and we talk and we wait.

Al 2

Sarah taught me about that. You would have

liked her. She had some answers.

Mort

They all do.

Al 2

You want to hear what she said?

Mort

Sure. I’m not going anywhere.

Al 2

You’re going to like this. She said,

“feelings are a bridge, not a wall.”

Mort

Sounds like something a woman would come up with.

Al 2

There’s more.

Mort

Of course. Isn’t there always?

Al 2

Two things. “A wall is a barrier, a bridge is a

stepping stone.” and “When life throws rocks at

you, you can use them to build a wall or to build a bridge.”

Mort

You two must have had some interesting conversations.

Al 2

Mort, do you remember when you talked about feeling dead?

Mort

To my great consternation, yes.

Al 2

I think that’s what Sarah meant, about walls and

bridges. That day you made a wall into a bridge.

Mort

Felt more like walking into a wall and breaking my nose.

Al 2

Yeah it can. Tell me about your wife.

Mort

Where did that come from? My wife is my wife.

Has been for forty years.

Al 2

You never mention her. You think it would bother

me to talk about your wife when I lost mine?

Mort

Unfortunately, I’m not that sensitive to have thought

about it.

Al 2

So. Tell me about her.

Mort

We got married. Had three kids. The usual stuff.

Al 2

So why did you marry her?

Mort

What are you, a social worker or something?

Al 2

Sorry if I’m asking too much. I’m looking for a bridge.

Mort

Yeah. And you want me to supply the materials.

Al 2

Yeah. Something like that.

Mort

We married (more)

(Enter YM and YMW  BB dancing)…

because we danced.

Al 2

You married her because she was a good dancer?

Mort

No. We danced. We moved together like we were one.

We flowed. We were the other’s missing half of some

…..some…………..wonderful whole.

(Exit YM and YMW)

Al 2

What happened?

Mort

What do you mean what happened?

Al 2

You’re not in love any more. I can see that. And

if I’m intruding tell me to bug off.

Mort

You’re intruding and you’re wrong. I do love her.

Al 2

So what happened?

Mort

I made a couple of mistakes.

Al 2

Oh.

(Both watch the lions)

Mort

I apologized. Hundreds of times I apologized, but

things were never the same. I gave up trying to

fix it.

Al 2

I’m sorry.

Mort

We really haven’t been civil to one another in thirty

years. She never forgave me. Everyday was a reminder

of some kind. A comment, a look. Made my life shit. I

was glad to work. Took extra call, few vacations. And

I came here when I retired. Al and I hit it off and

it was nice to come here.

Al 2

Kind of what it is for me now.

Mort

Yeah. Exactly. A haven. A sanctuary.

(Both look at lions)

Al 2

And a prison if you think about it.

Mort

I don’t think about it. Someone once told me

that thinking is over rated.

Al 2

We come here to get off the merry go round. A place

to belong. Not a bad thing. We nurse our wounds. Feel

better for a while. Get some strength to face another day.

(Both look at the lions. Young man enters looks walks on)

Mort

(Stunned)

Oh my. Look at that.

Al 2

What? Are you alright?

Mort

I’m glad it wasn’t a ball peen hammer!

Al 2

What?

Mort

A friend told me once when you suddenly realize

something, God just hit you with a rubber mallet.

I’m glad he didn’t use a ball peen hammer on me.

Al 2

For what?

Mort

All this time that I’ve been stupid.

Al 2

What?

(More)

(Mort stands up, move around a little in front of the bench like he was testing out moving again, then sits)

Al 2

What?

Mort

The people walking by and what you said about a prison.

Al 2

What about them?

Mort

That’s the difference. If it wasn’t so pitiful, it would be funny.

Al 2

What?

Mort

And that stuff your wife said, walls and bridges.

She’s right you know. Your wife was right!

Al 2

She may know and you may know, but I have

no idea what you’re talking about.

Mort

Walls and bridges. You’re the one that brought

it up. Walls. You sit behind walls. You walk on

bridges. Isn’t that what you said?

Al 2

Yeah. But I didn’t mean to cause a heart attack.

Mort

No. The people walking by.

Al 2

Yes. The people walking by. I’m glad. Sounds good.

People do walk by. But what are you talking about?

Mort

I’ve missed it. All this time I’ve watched them go by.

Even found fault with most of them.  But all of them…

Every damned last one of them did something I never

thought to do.

Al 2

What?

(Mort gets up and slowly walks behind his bench. Looks around backstage. Looks at the lions. Then slowly completes a small circle and returns to sit on the bench.)

Mort

They moved on from the lion house. They all came

by, looked in, and then walked on to other things.

Al 2

The zoo’s a big place.

Mort

Sure it is, when you go look at it. Al was right.

I’m a monitor. I sit here and monitor.

Al 2

So what are you going to do with this revelation?

Mort

I don’t know. (Laughs) Maybe I should get a

job selling peanuts. I have to do something.

Al 2

You want to know what else Sarah said?

Mort

Al, I apologize for my attitude. What you have

told me, what Sarah said, seem like good ideas.

Ones I can really use. I could use a bridge, I think.

Al 2

She did that for me too. And for once in

a long time it feels good to talk about her.

Mort

So, I’m willing to hear what else Sarah said.

Something to do about side walks or windows

I suppose?

Al 2

No. More on bridges. She said that there is

never a bridge too far.

Mort

Sounds like a good book title. Al, I don’t

have any idea of what that means.

Al 2

What she said was that even if the bridge

was far away, or appeared too long or too steep

or whatever, it was still a bridge to somewhere

and should be taken.

Mort

(Looks surprised and a little confused)

Al 2

She was a writer. Nothing major, except to me.

Mort

She was a wise woman.

Al 2

Yeah.

Mort

I need to leave.

Al 2

Where are you going?

Mort

I think I need to buy some toothpaste. Maybe cross a bridge.

Al 2

Mort?

Mort

I have been such an idiot!

Al 2

I don’t want to be alone again.

Mort

Al was right. I need to buy some toothpaste.

And Sarah was right. You can build walls or

you can build bridges.

Al 2

Mort. I like talking to you.

Mort

I’ve been building a wall, thick and tall.

We can’t see through it or talk over it.

Certainly can’t touch. She’s built one on her side

too, I suppose. We can’t do that any more.

Al 2

Mort.

Mort

You helped me understand.

Al 2

I know.

Mort

I need to go home.

Al 2

I know.

Mort

I’m not sure how it will work out.

Al 2

I think the line is that she “has to take you in.”

Mort

I don’t know. I can think about working things

out, but can I do it?

Al 2

Home isn’t a place. It’s something you take with you

over the bridge.

Mort

Is that more Sarah?

Al 2

No. I just made it up.

Mort

Can I do it? Sure is easier to build a wall than a bridge.

Bridge has to go over empty space. Lot of that in my brain

though.

Al 2

Mort, if you want to. And if she wants to.

Mort

(getting up)

I’m going home.

Al 2

Good luck.

Mort

See you later.

(Exits. Al 2 watches the lions. Mort returns)

Mort

And when I come back, I want your address and

telephone number.

(Exits. Al 2 smiles and watches the lions for a while. Another old man enters sits where Mort was. Watches the lions. )

Old Man

Do those lions ever do anything?

Al 2

Sometimes….. Sometimes they roar!…..My names Al.

Old Man

I’m Bill.

Al 2

Bill, can I buy you a cup of coffee?

Old Man

That’s very nice of you. Don’t mind if I do.

(Both exit. Benches empty for a short time. Enter Al 1)

Al 1

(To lions)

Hi. You lions. Still sitting around. Thought I’d stop

and say goodbye. Be a nice time for one of those “To be

or not to be” speeches. Seems kind of ridiculous to do

that under these circumstances. I loved Mort. You could

see that couldn’t you? I had a great time with him. He

was intelligent. He was in the habit of displaying it

rather than applying it though. I knew that, so it

didn’t matter much. I did the same myself. I was so

scared of getting old. Had this idea that you start at

zero and go on from there adding up the years like

(More)

miles on an odometer. Life is actually more like a

pearl, adding layers rather than miles. You don’t move

as far as you like to think. At least I didn’t. That

bench was kinda nice.

We must have talked about you a million times. I could

never decide if you guys were better off than the other

ones. Nowit doesn’t matter, but it sure did before.

Does it to you? Ah well. Thanks for being here. We’ll

see you later.

(Exits)

Curtain