It's a GOOD Life
Original story by Jerome Bixby; Adapted for stage by Jeannette Jaquish
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It's A GOOD Life
from a short story by Jerome Bixby
adapted for The Twilight Zone by Rod Steiger
adapted by Jeannette Jaquish for stage Nov. 2008 updated 8/2010
This script: ©2007, 2010 Jeannette Jaquish
To perform this script, low cost royalties must be paid. Go to firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
(Approximately 50 minutes.)
Cast and tech notes at the end of the script.
ACT 1: A Hot Day
(Yard is in foreground or in audience, raised porch then kitchen & wide living room upstage. A cornfield at the edge.
Aunt Amy fans herself in a rocker near an empty chair on the porch.
Bill Soames rides bicycle with box up to porch. Note: No one says "her" in regards to Andy until Andy is seen. )
BILL SOAMES Hello Miss Amy. How are you today? I brought your groceries.
AUNT AMY: Hello Bill. I'm doing just fine, thank you, except I'm about to melt away, it's so hot. Goodness how can you pedal that bicycle in this terrible heat?
BILL Oh, no, Miss Amy. The heat is good. It's not hot. It's um.. relaxing... Don't you think? (apprehensive) Uh...where is little Andy? (sets box on porch)
AUNT AMY: Around somewhere, I think. (calling) Andy? Bill Soames is here!
BILL Oh, you don't need to bother Andy. I was just.... just wondering.
ANDY's voice: Bill!
BILL (looking around) Yes, Andy?
ANDY's voice: Look at what I'm making!
BILL Uh, where exactly...
(Bill is jerked down flat so he is looking under the porch)
Oh, there you are Andy. Playing under the porch -- that looks like fun. Oh, say you've got it decorated real nice, just like a clubhouse. What is that you got there? Did... did that... did that used to be a rat?
ANDY's voice: It used to be two rats. Isn't it funny?
BILL It's real funny, Andy. It's a real uh.. work of art.
ANDY's voice: (laughing) I don't think they like each other.
BILL I think you're right, Andy. I'm sure glad you got those rats to play with. I mean I'm sure glad you're having fun. (can't get up)
I'd better take these groceries into the house, now Andy.
ANDY: OK! (Bill is released.)
AUNT AMY: Mary's in the house, I think... Andy? Where's your mother?
(MOTHER walks suddenly into kitchen as if shoved by an invisible force. Looks around then begin to tidy.)
AUNT AMY: In the kitchen, Bill. You can take it on in to her.
BILL SOAMES (stands, picks up box) Andy? I need to walk up onto the porch now.... Is that OK?
ANDY's voice: It's OK.
BILL I don't want to make dust fall on you Andy.
ANDY's voice (a little irritated) : I said it's OK!
BILL SOAMES (flying up steps to kitchen) Wooaah! Good afternoon, Mrs. Fremont.
MOTHER Why hello, Bill. I thought it might be you. That's quite an entrance.
BILL I had a little help.
MOTHER Well, take a bow; it was very graceful. And our groceries! Thank you so much.
BILL Got most everything you asked for (getting them out of the box and glancing at a list on a grubby piece of paper or a large leaf)... Cabbage, Corn, them's from the Stuarts,
Apples, from the Taylors, Milk, nearly a quart-- this is from the Johnsons' cow now, since the Casteneda's cows... walked off the.. edge, (an exchanged glance of caution)
A fresh cut Roast -- isn't that a nice one,
Beet sugar - a whole baby food jar full,
and a coffee can of Cracked Wheat ... but, I'm sorry, Mrs. Fremont, there's no more laundry soap.
MOTHER Oh, dear, bar soap used up half a year ago, and now no laundry soap. Been using it a pinch at a time but I guess it had to run out sometime. Guess we'll just have to make do with hot water. But that's good isn't it, Bill?
BILL It sure is, Mrs. Fremont. It's real good.
MOTHER One less thing to worry about. Simplifies things, doesn't it?
BILL Sure does. It's real good. Oh, I forgot. Look, (holds them up proudly) two cans of tomato soup. Found 'em under the floorboards at the Wallace's. I brought 'em special, cause I know Andy likes tomato soup. You'll tell Andy I brought the soup, would you please, Mrs. Fremont?
MOTHER Andy likes you Bill.
BILL And I like Andy! What a great kid. Well, I got more deliveries to make. Nice seeing you Mrs. Fremont.
MOTHER Goodbye, Bill. Oh! Take these tomatoes and carrots from our garden. (begins loading from table to box)
BILL Oh, thanks, Mrs. Fremont, they look real good.
MOTHER Oh, dear the box is splitting. (they look at it with true concern) Right down the fold.
BILL Oh, I can patch it. We still got lots of glue from the Wallace's horse.
MOTHER Glue and patching can only go so far. It's getting pretty saggy and worn.
BILL No, it's good! It's good that it's wearing out. We can always build another 'un from wood when these are gone.
MOTHER We couldn't do without you, Bill.
BILL It's not like when we ran out of gasoline.. (sudden terror!)
MOTHER (cheerful scolding) Oh, tut tut, who needs stuff like that anymore? You'll be back for television tonight?
BILL (terrified and jolly) Oh, yes, of course. Wouldn't miss it. And who needs gasoline? Where is there to go? (more sudden terror)
MOTHER And Dan Hollis's surprise birthday party. (laughs) Shh - big secret!
BILL Oh yeah, Dan's surprise! Yep! I got him a present, just gotta wrap it. Well, better be going. See you this evening, Mrs. Fremont!
(He looks sick with fear as he faces the porch, then with a big smile begins carefully walking back across.)
I'm walking across the porch now, Andy. It was real nice seeing you and ... that funny thing you made. Your mom has something special I brought you. I hope I'm not dropping any dust on you--
AUNT AMY (Still fanning herself looking tired and hot.) You don't have to walk so carefully, Bill. It's all quiet under there. I think Andy's gone off somewhere.
BILL Thanks, Miss Amy. Have a good day -- it IS a good day. Goodbye, Miss Amy! (calling) Goodbye Andy!
(Bill is barely keeping his terror controlled as he mounts his bike and pedals away. As soon as he is off stage:)
BILL SOAMES (yell of sudden terror fading into the distance)
(AUNT AMY hustles over to look after him down the road.)
AUNT AMY Wow! He's going fast. I guess Andy WAS paying attention. Andy!!! Let Bill slow down, please. He's about to go off the edge, dear. Andy? Bill needs to slow down! (She looks after him but can't seem to see what happens. She loses interest and goes back to her rocker.)
(Mother carries ears of corn out and sits next to Aunt Amy, and they both shuck the corn, Aunt Amy slower.)
MOM: Television tonight.
AUNT AMY: I'm glad. I look forward to it so much every week. It's so nice for everyone to have a good meal and visit together. I wonder what we'll see tonight?
MOM: I don't know, dear, but I'm sure Andy will make it real good.
AUNT AMY: Yes. (stops shucking corn, leans back and fans herself) Goodness, it's so hot. I wish Andy would make it just a little cooler--
AUNT AMY: Oh! I'm sorry, dear. (Her eyes shuttle around, right and left)
MOM: Andy doesn't have to be near, Amy. You know that. This weather's just fine.
AUNT AMY: Oh, yes. It's a wonderful day. I wouldn't want it changed for the world!
MOM: It's good that Andy is getting older and understands better that we need things just the way they are. That having a sun is important. If you go thinking that the sun is too hot, well, think what might happen? (meaningful pause) You don't want that.
AUNT AMY: Oh, no. Like when I said the air smelled bad when Andy killed the pigs.
MOM: Yes, Andy tried to fix the air. You remember that, Amy, don't you? All the choking? And all the people who were outside? Andy is such a good, caring, helpful child, who might be listening, and that is why everything is just fine, just the way it is.
AUNT AMY: Oh, Mary. I did forget. (sincerely) How could I forget that day? What is wrong with my mind? You're right. Everything is is just fine. It's a good day!
MOTHER: Yes, Amy. A real good day. Everyone forgets things, Amy. Your mind is just fine. It's easy, just remember: Every day is a good day.
AUNT AMY (drifting to a memory) I remember when Andy made the cat rug. I'll never forget that. I shouldn't have yelled. I guess I hurt Andy's feelings.
MOTHER It's good for you to remember the cat rug, but let's not talk about it. Let's talk instead about the surprise birthday party for Dan Hollis.
AUNT AMY: I can remember everything BEFORE the cat rug but not after. Since then it's all confused, big holes, and what's left doesn't make sense...... Did Andy do something to....
MOTHER (interrupting) Amy, do you remember the cake we made this morning?
AUNT AMY The cake? Yes! We made a cake! For...
AUNT AMY Don Hollis's surprise birthday party! Oh that will be fun! Nobody's told him?
MOM: Everybody swore they wouldn't.
AUNT AMY: That'll be real nice. (nodded, looking off across the cornfield.) A birthday party.
MOTHER: Well, I'd better get the roast in the oven. Then we can set the table.
(MOTHER sees Hank and his son Henry, Jr. approaching.) Hank is carrying a hammer-- which Andy has permanently fastened to his hand-- )
Looks like we have company again, that's unusual.
(Goes to meet them.)
HANK & HENRY JR. Good afternoon, Mrs. Fremont.
MOTHER Good afternoon, Hank,.. Henry, Jr,.. What brings you clear out here? I see, you.... haven't misplaced your hammer again.
HANK Nope, and real good thing, too. Whatever, I'm doing, if I need a hammer, I've got it.
MOTHER Henry Jr., I.... I haven't gotten the chance to tell you in person that I'm sorry about your dog.
HANK Oh, that's ok, Mrs. Fremont, we didn't want that dog no more. He was a bad dog. A bad digging dog.
HENRY JUNIOR (with fake cheerfulness, over resentment and sorrow) Yeah, it was good that Andy made Jasper choke to death... eating his own legs.
HANK (chuckle) Real good. We're just taking the long way home. The Johnson's silo and the Wallace's barn both... uh rolled into the river and tore out the downtown bridge, so we took the scout bridge to get back home.
MOTHER (looking afar) Why you're right! They're gone! I didn't think Andy wandered that far. Andy's getting older.....
(ANDY ENTERS by, it seems, suddenly appearing, and Henry, Jr. and Hank startle, then force calm and smile.
ANDY skips up happy, proudly, goes to stand next to her mother who pets her head.)
HANK And there she is!
HENRY JUNIOR (less enthusiastic) Hi, Andy!
HANK You look real pretty today, Miss Andrea Fremont.
HENRY JR (less enthusiastic) Yeah, real pretty.
MOTHER Andy dear, did you put the Johnson's barn and the Wallace's silo into the river?
ANDY (grinning with pleasure) I rolled them in! (acts it out) Boingy boingy boingy. It was funny! The animals fell out but I rescued them.
HENRY JUNIOR Some of 'em drowned.
ANDY (pointing accusingly at Henry, Jr.) You're thinking I did a bad thing, Henry Junior!
HANK (swoops in and grabs his boy by the shirt roughly) I'll take him home and spank him, Andy. He's a good boy, he just had one bad thought. I'll take him home and whup him real hard! Come on, boy, you're in real trouble!
(THEY EXIT the father yanking the son along quickly, saving his life, of course.)
ANDY Use the belt! I'll be watching.
HENRY JR Not the belt! (crying)
HANK You're getting off easy, boy! Howdy, Frank!
(Frank Fremont, Andy's FATHER ENTERS, tired, blood on his shirt, he smiles big when he sees Andy. Andy runs to him happily.)
FATHER Howdy, Hank, Henry Junior.
ANDY Daddy's home! Give me a piggy back ride.
FATHER Andy my girl! Up you go. (FATHER bounces Andy on his shoulders playfully, and give his wife a kiss.)
MOTHER Andy rolled the Johnson's barn and the Wallace's silo into the river. Wasn't that good?
FATHER Sure was! Some of the men were talking, thinking, maybe it's best to leave it all there until Andy's through playing with it.
MOTHER Andrea, sweetheart. Henry Junior was just sad when he saw the drowned animals. You understand him feeling sad don't you?
MOM: Didn't you feel sad when you saw them, all drowned and dead?
ANDY A little bit. I didn't like feeling that way. Why'd they die?
MOM: Animals and people need to breathe air. When our heads are underwater we can't breathe and then we die.
ANDY (thinks about it) That's when they stop thinking.
FATHER Everyone likes to think, Andy-my-girl. And I'm thinking... I'm going to spin you around!
(FATHER spins ANDY on his shoulders and she squeals with delight. He slows down, dizzy.)
Whooh, can I put you down, Andy? I'm dizzy and don't want to drop you.
ANDY Ok, Daddy. I'm going to go play with the car! (ANDY EXITS)
MOM: Careful, honey. Don't hurt.... yourself ...
(hoping for a moment that Andy does, shakes it off)
We love you dear!
FATHER (to Andy) We sure do! (to his wife) We'll just keep helping her grow up, teach her kindness and what's right. It's all we can do....
(MOTHER & FATHER go up porch steps past AUNT AMY.)
FATHER Howdy, Aunt Amy.
AUNT AMY Howdy, Frank. Isn't it a hot day?
FATHER Oh, no Amy, it's a good day, a real good day.
(FATHER & MOTHER ENTER the Kitchen. He sits down at the kitchen table. Smiles. AUNT AMY follows carrying the corn, will put it into a pot and pour water from a bucket into it and put it on the fire or stove.)
MOM: I'll get you a lemonade. Goodness you're a mess. And me to do laundry with no soap from now on...
(pours him lemonade) Oh, I still haven't gotten the roast in the oven. Amy would you bring in some firewood, please. (to FATHER)
Bill Soames brought us over a roast, nice and lean.
FATHER I should know, I helped. Been over in Dunn's pasture with the other men. We picked out the cow, an older one, did the job, then butchered and salted the meat and packed it into Soame's icehouse. Wish we'd known Andy was gonna drown a barnful.
MOM: Not all of them dear. (pause as she works putting roast, carrots & potatoes into a baking pan) How many cattle do we have left?
FATHER Well, just the Dunn's now, I guess. Three bulls, seven cows, and one calf - a male.
MOTHER Eleven. That's good. That's real good. Whose house will you be at tomorrow?
FATHER Was gonna be the Mcintyres'. Yesterday we cut their wheat, so tomorrow we were gonna start threshing. But the other fellows were carting in those drowned animals as I was heading home, so I guess we'll put off threshing until we're done with them.
MOTHER Guess we'll have a lot of meat soon. That'll be good... until it runs out.
FATHER I don't think we have room in the icehouse. Hope we don't have to dump all that meat over the edge like that year we got the big grain harvest.
MOTHER Yes that was a shame. When it all started to rot, I just wanted to cry. Oh, but that was good wasn't it!
FATHER It sure was! (drinks) Mmm that's good lemonade. (Wipes his mouth, looks at his hands)
First year we did the harvesting by hand I got blisters,
(with a touch of pride) but now I got calluses.
MOM: Those are good strong hands. (gently strokes his hand) Well, that's one good thing since Andy --
(he grips her hand in warning. She stops in horror at her own meaning and fixes it)
Along with all the OTHER good things that we have now that Andy took the town away.
AUNT AMY (distracted) I kinda miss our electrical appliances. The refrigerator, the washing machine, the toaster, the radio...
MOM: Oh, NO, Amy, you're just talking silly now. That refrigerator and the washing machine they weren't no good, no good at all. It's much better now getting to do things by hand.
FATHER Sure is, getting to eat fresh baked bread. Mmm.. I could eat a loaf all by myself, I'm so hungry.
(Pause to see if anything bad will happen. Sigh of relief when it doesn't.)
MOM: No one told Dan Hollis about it being a birthday party, did they?
FATHER Nope. We kept as quiet as mummies.
MOM: We've fixed up such a lovely surprise!
FATHER Um, what?
MOM: Well ... you know how much Dan likes music. Well, last week Thelma Dunn found a record in her attic!
MOM: Yes! And we had Ethel sort of ask you know, without really asking--if he had that one. And he said no. Isn't that a wonderful surprise?
FATHER Well, now, it sure is. A record, imagine! That's a real nice thing to find! What record is it?
MOM: Perry Como, singing You Are My Sunshine.
(or whatever old group's album cover you can find)
FATHER Well, I'll be darned. I always liked that tune. How did Thelma happen to find it?
(picks up a raw carrot on the table, scrubs it on his chest, and takes a bite.)
MOM: Oh, you know just looking around for new things.
FATHER M'm. (crunch crunch.) Say, who has that picture we found a while back? I kind of liked it--that old clipper ship sailing along--
MOM: The Hendersons. This week after church they give it to the Stuarts, and the Stuarts give old McIntyre's music-box to the Dunns, and the Dunns give us the daisy quilt, and we give the tea set to the Soames.
FATHER (nodding) Looks like we can't have the picture for a while, I guess. Look, honey, you might try to get that detective book back from the Rileys. I was so busy the week we had it, I never got to finish all the stories--
MOM: I'll try. But I hear the Van Husens have a stereoscope they found in the cellar. ( just a little accusing) They had it two whole months before they told anybody about it--
FATHER It's good that they took a little time to enjoy it. It's got lots of pictures?
MOM: I suppose so. I'll see on Sunday. I'd like to have it but we still owe the Van Husens for their canary. I don't know why that bird had to pick our house to die ... it must have been sick when we got it. Now there's just no satisfying Betty Van Husen--she even hinted she'd like our piano for a while!
FATHER Well, honey, you try for the stereoscope or just anything you think we'll like.
(At last he swallowed the carrot, coughing a little.) That was a good carrot.
AUNT AMY Two frosts and now this heat wave. It's a wonder any of the crops survive.
MOTHER Guess we're all survivors. And that's good!
FATHER Sure is! And this Sunday we get the daisy quilt. Andy and I can make a tent with it in the living room. That'll be nice. It's nice to think that there's probably still a lot of stuff nobody's found yet, in cellars and attics and barns and down behind things. They help, somehow..... As much as anything can help.
MOM: (fake laughing) Frank! Such talk! Everything is fine, just right!
FATHER Oh, (smiling hastily.) Of course! Those new things are fine but everything is good already.
MOM: Wouldn't change a thing!
AUNT AMY Pretty soon, there won't be any more new things. We'll have found everything there is to find. Goodness, that'll be too bad.
AUNT AMY Well-- (drifting on..) It will be kind of a shame, same stuff over and over, and then they'll start wearing out....
MOM: Amy, don't talk like that. (trembling.) Amy, be quiet!
FATHER No dear, Amy talking is good! ( wanting-to-be-overheard tone of voice.) It's good for Amy to talk any way she wants. It's good for her to feel bad. You don't want her to stop talking, do you?
MOM: Oh, my goodness, no. Amy talking is good. But Amy you don't want new things, do you? Think of what those new things might be.
AUNT AMY Oh, yes, you're right! (looking around in fear) The things we have are just fine!
FATHER Sure are. I'd better go wash up.
MOTHER Give me that filthy shirt; I'll start it soaking. I ironed your blue striped for television tonight.
FATHER (unbuttoning shirt) Guess that one's my best now.
MOTHER Until Old McIntyre finishes his loom.
FATHER (chuckling) Hard to build a loom from encyclopedia pictures, and metal parts he's got to beat out himself.
MOTHER He fixed our doorknob.
FATHER He's a fixer. That's for sure. (hands her the dirty shirt. Kisses her cheek.) Thanks honey.
MOTHER Oh, itís time to bring in the chairs from the porch.
FATHER Television night! Iíll get the rocker.
(They bring the porch chairs onto the stage. Father takes bucket, ďrazorĒ and towel from kitchen to yard and will shave face as he talks with Andy.)
(CURTAIN CLOSES behind him.
ANDY appears again unexpectedly if possible.)
ANDY Hi Daddy,
FATHER Hi, Andy-my-girl. I'm just getting cleaned up for television night. What have you been doing today?
ANDY (proudly) I made a rat with two heads.
FATHER Two heads? Oh, that's nice. Did you wish it to the cornfield?
ANDY Yep. But I'm tired of playing with rats.
FATHER Well, you used up all our chickens and pigs. We couldn't even eat them after you finished playing with them.
ANDY You said they were funny looking.
FATHER They were funny looking. Funny looking monsters. But we get our food from the animals. You like eating bacon and eggs right?
ANDY Uh-huh. Daddy! No kids came to play today. And I wanted someone to play with.
FATHER Well, dear. You know how much Mommy and I love you. Other parents love their children too.
Billy and Susan Mitchell came to play, two weeks ago.
ANDY Yeah! That was fun!
FATHER But when they cried you got mad.
ANDY (mad) I gave them a ride and they screamed at me.
FATHER Well, then you did something to them, and wished them into the cornfield. Their parents were upset. Just like Mommy and I would be if something happened to you. Because we love you. Everyone loves you, Andy.
ANDY Not everyone.
FATHER Well...., everyone who is left.
ANDY Those men didn't like me. Mr. Taylor and Mr. ...
ANDY They were making a trap for me. They were thinking about it. And that's why I made them catch on fire.
FATHER They were bad men, they sure were Andy.
ANDY And Mr. Wallace's wife, and his kids were crying because he was dead. And that made me mad.
FATHER Yes, but the Wallace's are all gone now. So everyone who is left loves you.
ANDY Billy and Susan didn't love me! And I was giving them a fun ride!
FATHER Yes, Andrea, but your ride was very fast and very high. That's why they were crying, and not thinking about love. They were scared.
FATHER There are not many children left in town, Darling.
If you send any more to the cornfield, soon you won't have any children to play with.
ANDY I don't care! I want someone to play with!
FATHER Of course you do, Andy. How about this: Sunday at church, I'll ask the parents if some of their children can come play with you. Can I tell the parents that you promise not to send their children to the cornfield?
ANDY (mad) Just tell them to come! (storms off -EXIT)
(FATHER watches her leave, worried, turns to finish washing, plunges his arms into the bucket of water, then pulls them out with a yelp -- the water is hot.)
FATHER Yow! That's hot!
(He recovers, glancing around for more danger, sees the razor. It moves.
(Stage hand moving magnet on the other side.)
He grabs and holds it firmly away as if afraid of it. Takes the bucket, towel and EXITS fearfully.)
ACT 2 - DAN HOLLIS'S BIRTHDAY PARTY
(CURTAIN STAYS CLOSED)
(Evening of the same day. People are walking to the Fremontís house, passing in front of the closed curtain, to give FATHER time to change clothes. Each couple appears to carry a wrapped food dish and present.)
BILL AND BETTY SOAMES (ad libbing) Ė Itís nice that the weather has cooled. I hope everyone likes my cornbread. They love your cornbread. Oh, look at the moon; isnít that an unusual color. I donít think that is the moon. Well, whatever it is, it's good.
GRANDDAUGHTER ALICIA: ... and it's not fair because they got to keep the water colors an extra week and still got the roller skates, so they had both at once!
THELMA DUNN Landsakes, Alicia. That dress is getting skintight and is scandalously short. If you keep growing weíll have to sew you more clothes.
GRANDDAUGHTER ALICIA: All we have are scraps. I donít want another patchwork dress.
THELMA We can use the Wallaceís curtains.
ALICIA: But they smell like death!
THELMA Weíll wash them.
ALICIA: With no soap?
THELMA Weíll boil them and hang them in the sun.
ALICIA Which curtains? The grape leaves in the kitchen or the puke green in the living room?
THELMA Well, how about the grape leaves for the bodice and the puke green for the skirt?
ALICIA Nooooo... It'll be ugly....
HANK (still attached to hammer, of course):
I understand, Son, and I said I was sorry. (Pause) We're getting near. (Earnestly) We'll have a good time tonight, Henry. You'll see. Son, even before ... all this.. All through history, men have had to make the best of things, and build a good life, through all kinds of tribulations, with a happy heart and constant effort.
HENRY JR But Dad, even in the worst, even in the Wars, even in the Titanic, even in 1984, even when they were being scalped by Indians, they still had their thoughts. They had that!
HANK: Son we have no choice. With a good attitude we can make it better. Optimism! Energy! Just keep looking on the bright side. And that's an order! Come on, Son.
(ENTER DAN AND ETHEL HOLLIS -- she has deliberately stalled so others can prepare the party):
DAN HOLLIS Hurry, weíre going to be late.
ETHEL HOLLIS No we wonít. You donít always have to be the first one to arrive at television night.
DAN If you hadnít misplaced your shoes we wouldnít have wasted all that time.
MRS HOLLIS Dan! Itís television night. Letís relax and enjoy it. We bring the corkscrew so they arenít going to start without us.
DAN Just how do you leave one shoe under the bed and the other behind the umbrella stand?
ETHEL'S VOICE I found them, didn't I?
(The Fremont's Living Room.
Piano on one side, TV downstage opposite side facing opposite upstage corner, so audience cannot see the screen.
Chairs, love seat, and hall table arranged across room in between.)
(EVERYONE except DAN HOLLIS and ANDY suddenly scurry in, serious, and hide. We fear why.)
DAN HOLLIS'S VOICE (laughing and foot-stomps coming up stairs) I found it! The last one in the cellar! Cobwebs all over it.
(ENTERS wiping wine bottle with a hand towel)
Don't know the year but it must be before...
(he looks around the empty room in horror, thinking everyone has disappeared. Starts to hyperventilate and despair.) No!
EVERYONE (jumping out) Surprise! Happy Birthday!
(DAN almost faints in relief and leftover terror. He recovers as best he can and is overjoyed. Hugs.)
DAN HOLLIS Don't do that! You scared me! I thought -- Oh, you don't want to know what I thought. Ha ha! My birthday! Aw, you shouldn't have.
(Ad libbing in addition to lines, makes this scene realistic, but keep within the reality of the story.
They cluster around DAN.
Andy's MOTHER brings out a basket of wrapped presents from behind the love seat.
Andy's FATHER brings the small hall table downstage center for Dan to set presents on.
As DAN unwraps them his wife ETHEL and Andy's MOTHER will take the wrapping and gently fold it to re-use another time and put back in basket.)
DAN Presents??! A basketful. Oh, gee whiz, guys, this is too wonderful!
ETHEL HOLLIS: It was a surprise, wasn't it, honey? We were as sneaky as church mice.
DAN: It sure was. I forgot it WAS my birthday.
(On their turn, each person will take their present from the basket and hand it to Dan.
Ad lib without interrupting lines. Ad lib compliments about the gifts, how they were made, uses, thanks, etc.
Other hand-made or saved objects can be used as gifts, except keep the alcohol, record and cake.)
( HANK pushes HENRY JR. forward. )
HANK: Henry Jr.'s got something for you, Dan.
HENRY JR: Here, Mr. Hollis. Just a little something. (Hands Dan a hand decorated envelope. Dan opens it curiously and pulls out a short pencil.)
DAN: (thrilled) A pencil! Oh, you wonderful boy! Look! It has a quarter inch of eraser left. Look everybody! (They are amazed.) A pencil. It's at least 4 inches long. (tests it) And it works!
ETHEL Don't waste it darling.
HENRY JR. I found it inside the Wallace's couch.
DAN: And you gave it to me, you wonderful boy!
(Everyone ooohs and awes. Pencils were used up long ago.)
THELMA (aside to someone) He must have gotten to their couch before I did.
DAN Any time you want to use it Henry Jr., just ask.
HANK That's a hard act to follow, but here you go, Ol' Buddy.
DAN A pair of leather gloves. Hand sewn. Hank! Did you make them yourself?
HANK Tanned 'em myself. Got the leather from the Wallace's cow.
BETTY SOAMES What did you use to soften the skin?
HANK I'll tell you later. Oh, alright. (whispers to her.)
PAT REILLY : Here Dan, I made you a little box for keeping things in.
ETHEL: Oh, Pat! Itís beautiful. How did you get that color?
DAN I'm going to keep my personal jewelry in it.
BILL SOAMES: Here, Dan, this is a pipe my Uncle left behind when he visited from Arkansas 6 years ago.
AUNT AMY: I bet your Uncle'd be surprised to see where his pipe is now.
BETTY SOAMES And what good is a pipe, without ....Tobacco! (hands him a pouch) We grew it ourselves. This heat has been real good for drying it.
DAN (laughing) Yeah, it was just pure luck that ol' Rex Wilson decided to grow some tobacco in his yard before the drop-away, or there wouldnít be any in town at all.
ALICIA: I made you pecan fudge, Mr. Hollis.
DAN HOLLIS: Real fudge, with real cocoa? Real, precious cocoa? Oh, you wonderful girl! Thank you!
MOTHER: Frank, give him our present.
FATHER : Here you are, ol' pal. A pint of peach brandy.
(DAN is dizzy with happiness)
DAN Peach brandy?? But this is the last one in town, and you're giving it to me? There's just four rye, three Scotch, two apple brandy, nine grape wine and McIntyre's half a bottle of Drambuie (for weddings) --and when those are gone, that's it! --Except for that swill Hank brews himself.
HANK: You have the alcohol inventory memorized?? And what's wrong with my swill?
PAT Itís deadly, Hank, thatís whatís wrong with it.
ETHEL HOLLIS: And now my present dear. A pair of socks I knitted myself.
DAN HOLLIS (truly pleased) Oh, wow!
ETHEL HOLLIS: You are always complaining about your socks falling down.
DAN HOLLIS: It's good that they fall down. But I love these socks, honey! I'm putting them on right now.
(As he sits and starts to pull up his pantleg showing a saggy sock, Ethel motions Thelma Dunn to bring out her present, the record.)
ETHEL HOLLIS: Oh, do that later, honey. No one wants to see your white ankles. Thelma has a special gift for you.
(ETHEL presents it, DAN begins to tremble with excitement as he unwraps it, almost dropping it until he is guided to the table to set it on.)
DAN Gosh. I think I know what it is. Which one is it? I'm almost afraid to look.
ETHEL You haven't got it, darling. Don't you remember, I asked about You Are My Sunshine?"
DAN Oh, gosh. (wrapping removed, he gently slides it out of the sleeve and smiles delightedly at everyone.) It has hardly any scratches! Oh, thank you, Thelma, thank you!
ETHEL Happy birthday, darling! (hugs and kisses him.)
(He clutched the record in both hands, holding it off to one side as she pressed against him.)
DAN (laughing) Hey! Be careful I'm holding a priceless object! ..... Look ... do you think we could play it? Lord, what I'd give to hear some new music ... just the first part, the orchestra (or instrumental) part, before Como sings?
(Faces sobered. Pause.)
BETTY SOAMES I don't think we'd better, Dan. After all, we don't know just where the singer comes in. It'd be taking too much of a chance. Better wait till you get home.
(DAN reluctantly puts the record on the table with all his other presents.)
DAN It's good, I can't play it here.
BETTY SOAMES Oh, yes! It's good. You know it is Dan. It's good.
FATHER: Pat would you play us some music?
(PAT does. The group relaxes, begins small conversations.
ANDY ENTERS wandering around just looking, pleasantly. Each adult greets Andy with a compliment and gentle conversation.
HANK JR stays off to himself, putting on a smile that fades.
DAN sulkily starts drinking the peach brandy, pouring some for others if they offer a glass.)
THELMA: Hello Andy. How pretty you look. What have you been doing lately?
ANDY: I built a dam for the beavers.
THELMA: Beavers. That's what those are. That's very nice. I hope they like it.
ALICIA: Of course they are beavers, Grandma. Didn't you see their flat tails?
HANK: Hello Andy, how pretty you look. Did your mother make that nice dress?
ANDY: Yeah, she said she wanted to do it herself, just like I like to do things myself. But I can do things faster. (wanders on)
BILL or BETTY SOAMES: Hello Andy, how pretty you look.
ANDY: Yeah, Yeah.
(looks around bored. Goes to Henry Jr.)
Did you enjoy your spanking?
HENRY JR (pause, then the truth) No, it hurt.
ANDY: Good! (smugly saunters away)
(HENRY JR blinks, confused, and humiliated.)
(ANDY wanders over to watch PAT play the piano. PAT nervously plays a few wrong notes and smiles at ANDY.
ANDY wanders over to the table of gifts and inspects each of Danís gift, except the brandy and record which DAN holds. The gifts do not interest ANDY. ANDY pauses, listening to a thought.)
ANDY: Where is the baby?
(PAT stops playing abruptly. SILENCE.)
MOTHER: The baby, Andy?
ANDY: I heard Mrs. Hollis thinking about it. I never saw a baby before.
FATHER : When you were a baby, Andy, you didn't like the other babies. You made them stop crying, and so no one wanted to have anymore. You were our favorite baby so we didn't need anymore.
MOTHER: You were the best baby.
FATHER: We all loved you.
OTHERS: (ad lib) We sure did..
ANDY: I don't remember other babies. Was it a long time ago?
(MOTHER gestures to AUNT AMY to get the cake.
THELMA, ALICIA and PAT clear gifts from table.)
FATHER: About 3 or 4 years ago.
ANDY: Oh, that's why I can't remember it. But this is a new baby. I want to see it.
FATHER: Oh but Andy, what if the baby cries? You don't like crying.
MOTHER: Darling, if you make the baby stop crying it won't grow up to be a child.
ANDY: And then I won't be able to play with it. (thinks) How long until it's my age?
FATHER: Well, more than 4 years, dear.
ANDY: I don't want to wait that long. I'll make it grow up faster.
FATHER: Oh, Andy, if you make the baby grow up faster it won't learn how to walk or talk, those things take time.
ANDY: That would be funny!
(AUNT AMY ENTERS with the cake, setting it on the table.)
MOTHER: Birthday cake time!
ANDY: Oh, boy! Cake!
(FATHER lights the candles, with one match or with a stick lit from the stove, as the cake is complimented.)
(Once candles are lit:)
FATHER: Happy Birthday Dan!
EVERYONE: Happy Birthday Dan!
(ANDY steps right up to the cake in front of Dan. FATHER looks at her happy face and Dan, then makes a decision.)
FATHER: Now Andy, blow out the candles!
(ANDY does and gets applause and ad lib compliments.
DANís feelings are hurt.)
ANDY I blew out the candles with my mouth, Mom. I didn't wish it.
MOTHER Iím proud of you. Do you want to have cake now, Andy?
ANDY (tasting the frosting with her finger) No, I want to wait.
MOTHER That's good. We're all still full from dinner. Thelma, tell everyone how you found the record.
(Someone quickly makes room for Thelma by moving the table with the cake out of the way.)
THELMA Well! I was just poking around the Wallace's attic and I found it under some old insulation. And after I wiped the dust off and saw what it was - a Perry Como album - I wanted to see what condition the record was in, and so without thinking, I started turning it around to find the opening and that record just rolled right out into the air (all gasp) and I screamed and swooped down and caught it inches above the floor. Never moved so fast in my life. (all laugh, but Dan stops, his face turns slack, then ugly.)
DAN Oh, Christ!
(Immediately the room was still, so long that they could hear the tick of the wind-up clock on the mantle.)
FATHER (soothingly, brightly) Pat, play us some music. One of Andy's favorites.
PAT: Andy, would you like to hear Pop Goes the Weasel?
(Pat starts to play. People mutter soft conversations as they nervously look at Dan and Andy.
ANDY stares curiously at DAN just a little irked, then goes to sit next to Pat.
They listen to the music. No one sings.
FATHER and MOTHER stand near ANDY to block the view of DAN.
Dan keeps drinking. ETHEL and HANK try to get him to go outside and let go of the bottle. He gets more and more noisy resisting her, finally:)
DAN Get your hands off me!
ANDY (stands and yells) Be quiet during the music! (PAT plays with more force, Andy sits again.)
DAN (stares sullenly for a bit, then loses it) Can't even play my record. My own damn record!
(PAT stops playing.)
How can you live like this?
We can't sing! Can't listen to singing! Can't even think our own thoughts!
Don't you see what that little monster has turned us into?
(PAT starts playing louder than ever as DAN yells.
ANDY squeezes between her parents to see him, then looks back at PAT.)
ANDY (to PAT): Stop playing! (She blinks or snaps fingers toward PAT who is paralyzed, squeezed, at the piano. Only Andy's MOTHER notices Pat is suffocating.)
DAN (looks at them in disgust)
Quivering, sniveling cowards! Afraid that little freak will twist you in half, or turn you inside out, or shrink you and feed you to a spider.
And when it happens to someone else it's "GOOD"!
Come on you people! Be ADULTS!
What this little brat needs is a good spanking!
ETHEL (hissing whisper) Dan, please! BE QUIET.
PAT (with a painful squeezed out breath) Andy....
MOTHER (putting hands on Pat) Andy, please! Let Pat move. Pat can't breathe. You don't want Pat to die do you?
(ANDY stares only at DAN.)
ETHEL HOLLIS (scolding) Dan! Dan you are being very rude! You are spoiling this nice party. You should go home. Dan just needs a nap, Andy. He's cranky. Let me take him home.
DAN: I donít want a nap! I want my freedom!
(He shakes off his wife and knocks or throws something, perhaps throws the bottle of brandy or sweeps the presents off the table, or splashes the brandy in his glass toward ANDY. However, he still holds the record album.)
HANK: Dan, Dan, cut it out! (gently) Andrea, sweetheart. Dan is sick. He's drunk. He drank too much brandy. He needs to go home. Do you want me to beat him with the belt? Please, Andrea....
MOTHER: (grabbing Andy's shoulders) Please Andy! Let Pat breathe! She's dying!
(ANDY turns and blinks or snaps fingers at Pat who sucks in a big breath. Andy is at least 4 feet from the piano.)
DAN (starts crossing, will pass Andy )
Pat, Pat, play something for me.
(begins to sing. Softly, hoarsely, miserably:)
Happy birthday to me... Happy birthday to me... (continues singing next line)
ETHEL: Dan! ( running across the room to him. Friends grab her and cover her mouth.) Dan. Stop--
BETTY SOAMES My God, be quiet!
(ANDY follows DAN with her eyes.
MOTHER & FATHER get away to other side of stage.
Only Dan and Andy are Center.)
DAN (reaches Pat, continuing) Happy birthday, dear Danny. Happy birthday to me! Play it, Pat. Play it, so I can sing right ... you know I can't carry a tune unless somebody plays it!
(PAT plays Pop Goes the Weasel, terrified.)
DAN (pointing at ANDY's PARENTS) You had her! You had to go and have her ...
(singing loudly advancing on Andy circling around her so he is back opposite the piano) You are my sunshine ... my only sunshine ... you make me happy ... when I am blue ..."
ANDY No singing!
(Everybody froze. Ethel Hollis faints and slips to the floor.
AUNT AMY is near but behind ANDY.)
DAN Someone do it! Now is your chance while this little monster is looking at me. Look at me Andy. (Bends toward her and stares furiously into her eyes.) Someone please! Look at me, Andy. Do I have to spell it out? Grab a heavy object and crack it over the kidís head! Do it! Are you all cowards? How can you live like this?
ANDY (pointing): BAD MAN!
DAN (just as ANDY speaks, DAN suddenly reaches toward her, then is rigidly snapped straight.
As if possessed, DAN pulls out his record and cracks it over his head, (Watch for flying shards, or pretends to crack the album cover and takes out an already broken piece) takes one of the broken pieces and brings it toward his neck. His feet still seem under his control as he backpedals away from it. )
DAN: No! Not with my new record! Not my birthday present!
(As the broken edge of the record cuts into his skin, he will back away, tipping over the back of a love seat head-first as friends reach for him (to lower him down) and die concealed with his feet kicking in the air.)
(AUNT AMY suddenly picks up a heavy object and lifts it high above Andy.)
AUNT AMY: Scream! ( Starts to bring the object down to crush Andy's skull, then is flung aside and crumples to the ground, even more brain damaged. MOTHER screams and tries to revive her, then forcibly turns it into a laugh.
ANDY calmly goes to sit next to Pat.)
ANDY: Play something else.
FATHER: Andy. It would be good to play more piano, but how about television time?
ANDY: OK! (hops off piano bench) It's Television Time. Television Time. Television, television, television Time!
(marches across to sit on the TV, facing other actors.)
(MOTHER helps a near-zombie AUNT AMY to her chair and sits next to her with her arm around her, sobbing with a big smile on her face. Ad lib chatter as others scurry to arrange chairs to face TV.
ETHEL is lifted and held up in her chair.
Using a hidden remote control, someone starts the DVD from a player backstage (order DVD from theaterfunscripts.com). The downstage TV screen faces opposite upstage and is not seen by the audience.
The people relax taking this chance for quiet and to pull themselves together. They watch quietly for a bit.)
THELMA Oh, thatís goodÖ. Whatever it is.
MOTHER: Andy, dear... What's that you're putting on the television?
ANDY I saw what you were remembering.
MOTHER: Yes, ... Isn't that good? Andy can see what I was remembering. I guess it's because she's older. She can do more things now.
THELMA: Is that....?
MOTHER It's.... Andy's birth. I was remembering it and now it's on the television.
(Many are too horror stricken to deal with it.)
ALICIA: Oh, that's good Andy!
Andy's birth! Now that is a good thing to be remembering.
THELMA Yes, that was a Good Day!
ALICIA: A good day. (repeated to fight the horror)
HENRY JR. (furious) A super goody good day!
(HANK puts a warning hand on his son's arm.)
THELMA DUNN Oh, look! There's Doc Bates, bless his soul, he was a good--, (Andy looks mad) No he was a bad man.
BILL SOAMES We thought he was good, Andy, but now we know he was bad.
BETTY SOAMES: A very bad man.
BILL SOAMES: Just pretending to be good.
(The men avert their eyes from the TV.)
ANDY: Why aren't you looking? Look at the television!
THELMA Andy's being born, there she comes ... Doc's lifting her ...
(ALL lean forward as they see the doc lift, look, scream and throw Andy to the floor, then Doc is flung through the wall, and the town is ripped from the earth. All except Aunt Amy are simultaneously flung back in their chairs by the image.)
ALL (on cue): Aaaah!
AUNT AMY (standing pointing) He saw! He saw what she was!
MOTHER: Hush, Amy! (stands) OK! Who wants eggnog?
AUNT AMY: You all saw! He threw her on the floor.
BETTY SOAMES (pulling Aunt Amy back into her chair) It was good that Andy threw him away.
BILL SOAMES: Right through a brick wall! That was good!
THELMA DUNN (stands) He was a bad man! I'll help you in the kitchen, Mary!
(People stand, ready to escape.)
ANDY: I'm not done making television!
(All sit obediently.)
FATHER: More television! Good! You tell us when you want eggnog, Andy, please? (sits)
(15 second pause as they watch TV struggling to control their own thoughts. )
BETTY SOAMES: (bursts into insane giggling) That's how it happened. All of Peaksville just ripped off the map. Just an island floating in .... what is it? Mist?
HANK (big smile) Or maybe everything else disappeared.
BETTY SOAMES: Disappeared. (laughs) The whole universe, do you think? Turned to nothingness?
Turned into what? Pea soup?
THELMA DUNN: Pea soup. That would be good.
EVERYONE: REAL good! (ALL look at TV.)
AUNT AMY: Peaksville, population: 3,162. I worked at the polls, that year, so I remember. What are we down to now? 46?... No, 45 now.
THELMA (cheerfully) Oh, Amy, such a worry-wart! It's slowed down a lot. Nothin' like before. Remember teething? Tonight was nothing like those weeks of teething.
(ETHEL sobs loudly.)
HENRY JR. Or the bee sting.
HANK Yeah, ha ha. Remember that? Who needs bees? (giving Henry Jr. strong look of warning)
HENRY JR. Or honey.
AUNT AMY: Or 14 city blocks and all the farms south......
BILL SOAMES Now, Miss Amy that crater makes a good reservoir. That worked out just fine.
HENRY JR. (bolder) I always wondered what happened to the ones that jumped ... And those kids whose sleds went over the edge ...
HANK Well, you heard 'em hollering. Sounded to me like they regretted their decision purty quick.
THELMA DUNN It's good to... (can't figure out what to say)
PAT REILLY: (losing the smile) It was good to see Andy's birth. (resentful glance at Andy's parents.)
To see how it happened. How Andyís birth changed everything.
ANDY: Birth. Was that my birthDAY?
MOTHER (goes to pick her up): Yes...
ANDY: Did I get a party?
MOTHER: No, you were too little.
ANDY: But now I'm big.
MOTHER: Well, yes.. I guess it is almost time for your birthday. November 30th. (or another date)
ANDY: November 30th.
EVERYONE (softly): November 30th.
AUNT AMY (foggy as ever) November 30th? Who keeps track of the date? Kinda pointless with Andy's weather always changing. Summer, winter, it's all mixed up. Date doesn't mean a thing.
MOTHER: Andy! Your 5th birthday. We'll have a big party!
ALICIA: Oh, that'll be real fine. We'll play games.
THELMA: A birthday party for Andy. 5 years old.
ANDY: I want all the kids to come. And everyone has to give me 10 presents. And I want new things, not that old stuff you give each other.
(As people look at each other in horror,
CURTAIN blows and snow comes in.
Everyone suddenly gets chilly and looks out over porch with amazed horrified faces.)
FATHER (upset) Andy, are you making it snow? That will kill all the crops!
ANDY Uh-huh. People were thinking it was too hot. And I don't want to wait for November 30th. I want my birthday party tomorrow!
Play something else, Pat!
All, except Henry Jr. look aghast at the impossible task.
It's a Good Life
original story by Jerome Bixby
adapted for The Twilight Zone by Rod Steiger
adapted for stage by Jeannette Jaquish
--approximately 50 min.
This play is under copyright and royalty must be paid.
Royalty details at www.theaterfunscripts.com.
ACT 1: A Hot Day
ANDY FREMONT Looks about 5, preferably a girl, because it is even more disturbing if she is a girl, and it is unexpected.
Not an evil child, just a normal strong willed, intelligent, curious child who has infinite power and has never been corrected.
AUNT AMY Adult. Her mind was addled by Andy, she forgets and says things like they are. She is tired, sad, confused. This actor must perform a dangerous prop manipulation and fall.
MOTHER - MRS FREMONT Andy's mother, Amy's sister. Sweet, kind, gentle.
FATHER - MR FREMONT Andy's Father, a good man.
Andy's parents are trying to guide her to be caring and understanding. They have become very skilled at being cheerful, and diverting thoughts and the conversation to happy topics. Under the constant threat of death they have created a reasonably normal home life for the child, though without discipline.
BILL SOAMES Nervous delivery man
HANK Father of Henry Jr. Has a hammer permanently attached to his hand by Andy who overheard him complaining that he put it down and can't find it.
HENRY JR Hank's son age 10 to 18. The son rebels against hiding his anger behind fake cheerfulness.
ACT 2: Dan Hollis's Birthday Party
BETTY SOAMES Bill and BETTY SOAMES are simply relatives. They could be married, parent and teen child, or brother and sister.
DAN HOLLIS Adult. Gets drunk and speaks all his bottled rage at Andy. Must fall over backwards and die.
ETHEL HOLLIS Dan's wife who tries to hold him back.
PAT Adult who plays piano. Timid.
THELMA DUNN - Alicia's practical Grandmother
ALICIA DUNN - Thelma's Teen Grandaughter
BIRTH DVD available from www.theaterfunscripts.com
with birth footage, destruction and earthquake and falling from the Earth footage and sound FX.
ACTORS MUST UNDERSTAND:
-Andy can read their thoughts and feelings and make anything happen just by wishing it.
-If she detects unhappiness she will think a solution and it usually goes terribly wrong because she is just a child and can't understand how things work, so everyone tries to be happy with how things are.
-If she detects bad feeling towards her, she will lash out at the thinker.
-5 years ago, as she was born, Andrea Fremont thought the town off the earth. They have existed with no other people, no electricity or supplies such as gasoline since. They do not use money or have newspapers or broadcasts or use banks or grocery stores. There are no fuel or electricity powered machines. All their manufactured things are wearing out and being used up. The population at the start of the story is 46.
corn to shuck
fake or real piano
old record album cover & a disposable record for each performance
old cardboard box for groceries
jars, boxes, cans and packages for groceries
a large leaf or corn husk or old worn piece of paper for the grocery list
bottle of brandy
bucket of water (good to have nearby if you light the candles)
fake cake with real frosting
kitchen or living room chairs & furnishings
a light hall table (about 1.5 x 4 foot, waist high)
handmade or saved objects for presents, wrapped in reused wrapping paper