A Simple Wake
A Play in One Act with One Scene
by Alfred de Grazia
Copyright © 2001 by Alfred de Grazia
Scene is a bleak upstairs room of a cheap rooming house. A single bed is stretched diagonally from left to right, and on it reclines a male figure covered with a blanket drawn up over his head. A pair of scruffy half boots stand neatly at the foot of the bed. A couple of chairs, a table, a mess of wires on floor, one of which at least is connected to a standing lamp. A small refrigerator, kitchen stuff messing up the table. A newspaper, a wastebasket overflowing. A pinup on wall. Entrance is from the left.
Dramatis Personae: Jack and Johnny.
As curtain rises, or light goes on, a young man standing and facing to the bed turns his head right to the door on left of stage.
Man of about 24 years coming in: "Hey, Johnny."
Man standing: "Hey, Jack."
Jack looks around and looks at bed.
Johnny: "Rick's dead."
Jack: "Rick dead? What the fuck you sayin, man, Rick dad."
Johnny: "That's what I said."
Jack: "Who said so?"
Johnny: "They said so downstairs."
Jack: "Did you look at him?"
Jack:"Well how you know he's fucking dead?"
Johnny: "Then you go ahead and look yourself."
Jack goes over to bed from behind, lifts cover off face, shakes him roughly, kicks bed. "He's dead awright - shit!"
Johnny: "Why do they always cover the face? He can't see."
Jack: "I dunno. Maybe they're scared."
Johnny: "Who killed him?"
Jack: "Who said he was killed?"
Johnny: "Well, yehafta die somehow, dontcha?
Jack: "Nobody say nothin' downstairs?
Johnny: "No. Jest say a girl came, and went up, and came down the stairs yelling he's daid."
Jack: "No ambulance, neither?"
Johnny: No cops. An I don't wanna be here when the cops come...They'll give us a hard time, got it?.. And for what..? It's nothin' we done.
Jack: " Where's his famly? "
Johnny: "I dunno he has one."
Jack: "Who are those people downstairs.?"
Johnny: "I dunno."
Jack: "Maybe he jus died."
Johnny: (scornfully) "How do you just die?"
Jack: "My father jes died one day...pouff!.. jes like that"
Johnny: "Look at his shoes, neat like that, jes like when we were in the army."
Jack: "He didn't OD, no smell of nuthin at all."
(Bit by bit they begin to examine the possible causes of death.)
Johnny: (Peeking under the covers) "Not a scratch on im.."
Jack: (Searching the pockets) "No, and lookee here, all he's got are a couple of bucks and it's still here."
Johnny: "So O.K. he wasn't robbed. An he's still got the stupid expression he always had." (Uncovering bare feet) "That's funny, the way he took his shoes off."
Jack: "Look at those tattoos! Boy, that's real professional work."
They appropriate little things and casually put them in their pockets. He has a guitar, but it has a large crack in it. Johnny: "Naw, let him have it."
Jack: "You know what? I think he decided to die and just did it, jes like that."
Johnny: "I wish I knew how he did it."
Jack: "A bad show."
Johnny: "Whattayexpec, hearts n flowrs?"
Jack: "Shut up.This is how you'll die"
Johnny: "You too."
Jack: "So he died."
Johnny: "So he jes died."
Jack: "He died from nothin. Doesn't that jes piss you off?"
Johnny: "Well, I don't give a shit."
Jack: "Well, I'm sorry about it."
Johnny: "So you're sorry. Why?..
Jack: "Because .. you know, he was sorta good.. One time I OD'd an he kept bucking me up until I came to..when was it? .. an another time he took me in when my old lady kicked me out...
Course I did him some favors too, lent him money, things like that, but he lent me some too."
Johnny: "Well I'm not shedding any tears. Do you know how he used to brag about how him and his sister would fuck when he was a kid -- man, that's a little hard to take, I mean, your own sister. And the fights he would have with his father, real fist fights, that's no good, what the hell. Always picking fights with me too, the bastard."
Jack: "OK, you're not sorry, me I am sorry. So let's git our shit out of here. I got better things to do."
Johnny: "Me, too. How about a prayer?"
Jack: (sarcastically) "What next?"
Johnny: "Go on. You know how."
Jack: (speaks firmly and clearly) "God almighty, take this man to where he belongs, in Heaven maybe, now he's dead."
Johnny: "Jesus, what a prayer."
Jack: "Got anything better?"
Johnny: "No. Now my cunt, she's got all these Buddhist chants.. but I got nothing... Hey Ol Man up there! Git off your ass and do something for this cockeyed world that's always bragging about you. And you kin begin by doin somethin for this poor motherfucker Rick."
Jack: "O.K. So let's go" They swing toward the door, take a step or two, hesitate, and Jack grabs Johnny's arm. He turns back to the bed, covers Rick's feet and head once again, turns back to Johnny, and they tip-toe out sombrely, closing the door quietly behind them.