I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

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October 22, 2001

I have no computer access at work and no window in range of my desk; therefore, the only stimuli that comes my way are the ringing phones and the conversations of co-workers. Having nothing else to do, then, I decided to write a play using only things that people in the office said to each other. As an added stipulation, no consecutive lines from within the same conversation were allowed, and the lines could not be re-arranged. (They appear here in the chronological order that they were spoken, over the course of two hours.) It starts out slowly, but stick with it.

(The setting is a laboratory. A, a brave and noble scientist, and B, a melancholic and remorseful scientist, are taking a break.)

A: I'm going to get that cup of coffee now. Is that okay?
B: He gave me one, too!
A: Oh! Thank you very much.
B: I'm a little early, twenty minutes. Tell him, no hurry.
A: We're just going to leave this here until I can figure out where it goes.
B: It's Monday.
A: Who's that little guy with glasses?
B: There's no answer.
A: I'll put one in for you.
B: Well, I don't have time.
A: I'll put a ticket in now. Oh, you know what? No change.

(The nefarious C enters, menacing B.)

C: I'm taking this lease stuff right here.
B: I don't mind.
C: Light out...where?
B: Would you like voice mail?
C: I have some work for you to do.
B: It's Monday.
C: You look like you're looking for something to do.
B: Just one second...
C: Where's my little stamp-er-ooo?

(B gives a muffled shriek. Lights down. A and B are onstage.)

A: What did you do to your finger?
B: Let me think back now, with my brain here.
A: Did you do any filing at all?
B: You jogged my memory here.
A: Did you make any folders at all?
B: I told Juan 'no'.
A: Where are we going from here?
B: I never had to do this before.
A: What is the problem now?
B: It's John Chesna on the stairwells.
A: What you've done over there, I don't know.
B: His family was there.
A: This feels funny.
B: Out of three bathrooms...
A: Oh, shit.

(Lights down. C and B are onstage.)

C: Slap him upside the head.
B: You're sitting on my papers.
C: It's a little messed up in the boiler room.
B: Oh, this is a bad day.
C: It's Monday.
B: It's Monday.
C: Can I get a letter?


C: I need it now.
B: Go ahead.
C: It is a wonderful life. And it's a wonderful month as well.
B: I have John Chesna...
C: We have another person.
B: Oh.
C: They started today.
B: I wouldn't call this fun-time.
C: That's a shame.
B: All these people...
C: It's Monday.

(Lights down. A and B are onstage.)

A: Would you like to stay in this building?
B: I don't know.
A: That's the thing. You could just go bonkers...
B: I know.
A: I am a mother to four little boys...
B: Five or six...
A: And they encourage you not to...
B: I don't either.
A: That's not what I see.
B: The rush is over.
A: I think I should buy some bran cereal.
B: I'd suggest that.
A: Because if they release it in the air...
B: I'm sorry.
A: I have to go to the bathroom.

(Lights down. B and JOHN CHESNA, a derelict, are onstage.)

JOHN: I'm looking at these pretty women...
B: Hello.
JOHN: Not into those kiddie parties?
B: All right.
JOHN: But they love their Uncle Happenin', though.

(Lights. A and B are onstage.)

A: I have a new list.
B: I'm doing my best...
A: Oh! I bet he's on here now...

(JOHN is revealed.)

JOHN: You shouldn't hurt the one you love.
A: Is that gentleman still here?
B: You're right I, uh...right. That's right. It's too bad that happened that way.
JOHN: Some lingerie or something...
A: I have to go to the bathroom...

(C enters, cackling nefariously.)

C: You didn't even miss me, did you?
A: Hello.
C: It's October. Anything can happen.
A: Gosh. You're funny.
JOHN: I went to a party this weekend...
A: What have you done?
B: I don't know.
A: Is there someone on the other line?
C: Is that enough?

(UNCLE HAPPENIN' emerges. He is everything that his name implies.)

C: It's just the easiest way.
A: No, no, no.
A: Ah.
B: I'm sorry.
UNCLE HAPPENIN': Monday, Monday, Monday.
A: Did you work with him on this?
B: I'm the contact person.
UNCLE HAPPENIN': It's Monday! How do you think I feel?
A: We're done. Done, done, done.
C: Just pop your head in my office...
A: I have to stop saying "good morning"...
A: There's so much left to do.

(A dies. B answers the phone.)

B: Someone just called. It's the entire grain floor.
C: You can take as long a lunch as you like.
B: Thanks.
JOHN: I'll get right on that.
C: Heh, heh, heh.
B: Is this how you wanted it?


C: No!...stalled at the tollbooth.

(C dies.

B: I can go any time.
JOHN: Strictly for the ladies.

(JOHN CHESNA and UNCLE HAPPENIN', momentarily sated, exit.)

B: Come back! Come...back.


You had to figure, in an exercise like that, a diarrhea monster (Uncle Happenin') would get involved at some point.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


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Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.