The Lie

Topic: The Longest Night                                                  Ron Campbell

soarfeat@gmail.com

 

 

 

THE LIE

 

SETTING:

A Suburban Living Room

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

Son, a six year old boy.

Father, a man in his forties.

 

 

(The lights come up on a suburban living room. FATHER is sitting in a leather chair, reading the evening paper. Son is on the floor, idly playing with a toy of some kind. FATHER says most of his lines from behind the paper. For most of this he’s barely listening.)

 

SON

Daddy?

FATHER

Yes son.

 

SON

Why can’t we open any gifts tonight?

 

FATHER

Because that’s not what we do. We always open gifts on Christmas morning.

Along with Santa’s gifts.

SON

But some people open at least one present on Christmas Eve.

FATHER

Well not us. You have to wait ‘til morning.

SON

Daddy? …You know how tomorrow is like, Christmas and all and tonight Santa comes and leaves us gifts beneath the tree if we’ve been good?

FATHER

Yes?

                                                              SON

I’ve got some questions about that.

FATHER

Well fire away son

SON

Not really questions. More like calculations

FATHER

Shoot.

SON

Well given that it is now eleven thirty Pacific Standard Time and, I know, way past my usual bedtime but it is Christmas Eve so the average six year old is probably allowed to stay up at least this late.

 

FATHER

You are not an “average” six year old.

SON

So for Santa to start his deliveries before midnight would be impossible.

FATHER

If you say so.

SON

Aha. So given that he is by all reports headquartered on the arctic circle it stands to reason he would be starting delivery for children in countries in the Northern hemisphere first, yes?

FATHER

I guess.

SON

To countries like Finland.

FATHER

Finland, sure.

SON

Do you have any idea how many children live in the country of Finland?

                                                             FATHER

I can’t say I do, son.

SON

Well I do. Teacher assigned us different countries in Geography. We have to do a report over the holiday break. I got Finland.

 

FATHER

Good for you.

SON

But here’s the thing. Even at three seconds per household Santa wouldn’t be done with Finland until at least eight thirty Greenwich Mean Time. And that’s just Finland. He’s still got to get through the rest of Scandinavia, all of Russia and Canada before he even starts on the US.

FATHER

What if he started the other way?

SON

What? What other way?

 

FATHER

What if he started delivering to the houses that were the farthest away and worked his way back.

SON

Are you making fun of me?

FATHER

No.

SON

(In one breath:)

The simple answer is re supply.  Since the average gift size- based on the Consumer Report’s Top 100 Christmas gifts- being a box approximately three feet seven and one half inches by four foot ten inches and if Santa wanted to take all the gifts with him on his delivery route, his sled would have enough mass to disturb the magnetic fields on Earth creating massive weather changes and rocking the planet on it’s axis while creating its own ecosystem.

                                                              FATHER

I see.

SON

It’s like the bagel.

 

FATHER

What bagel?

SON

The Everything Bagel. If you really put everything on a bagel do you have any idea how large that bagel would have to be?

FATHER

Not a clue.

SON

I do. But it depends on your definition of “thing”.

FATHER

I guess my definition is poppy seeds, onion, garlic, sesame seed-

SON

But they say “Everything Bagel”. If they don’t put everything on it then it’s not truth in advertising. It’s a lie.

FATHER

I’m sure they don’t mean to lie.

SON

Hmm. Anyway, Santa definitely takes trips back to the North pole to re supply his sled.
FATHER

I guess that’s so.

 

SON

And then there’s the question

FATHER

What question?

SON

How does he keep track of what we want? And the naughty/nice bell curve.  What’s the cut off point exactly for still being considered nice?

FATHER

(He briefly puts down the paper.)

You shouldn’t have to cut it that close.

 

SON

And how does Santa know which households include the naughty kids? And which the nice?

FATHER

(Back behind the paper.)

I don’t know, son. I suppose he has a scanner of some kind-

 

SON

Ahh- So is he relieved when he scans a house with only naughty kids since he doesn’t have to make a delivery there?

 

FATHER

Well, he’s Santa Claus, son. He-

 

SON

And when does that ever happen? I mean I’m six years old and I have never heard of any kid not getting anything from Santa on Christmas morning. Except the Goldfarb twins. But they’re Jewish.

 

FATHER

Well-

SON

I mean even our school bully, Danny Vickers, got a new ten speed bicycle from Santa last year. And he is definitely not nice. He’s totally mean.

 

FATHER

Well he must have some nice qualities. He can’t be mean all the time.

 

SON

He is. He killed a seagull with a wrist rocket at recess last fall. He tied Jordan Wilcox to the tetherball pole. The school janitor had to cut him loose with hedge sheers. He put super glue in one of the Goldfarb twins eye drops. He-

 

FATHER

Okay. I get the picture.

 

SON

-And does “being nice” include telling the truth?

 

FATHER

Hunh?

SON

Can you lie and still be considered “nice”?

 

FATHER

Well I don’t think doing a lot of lying would qualify as “being nice”, if that’s what you mean.

SON

I just want to get this straight. Tonight. Before Santa comes. Before he scans our house. After he’s finished in Finland, of course.

FATHER

Of course.

 

SON

And can you make up for a lie by telling the truth later?

FATHER

I suppose-

SON

Because I have to tell you something, Daddy. Now. Tonight.

FATHER

…Yes?

 

SON

You remember last year? When I was five? Remember what I got from Santa?

FATHER

Um-

SON

I got the G. I. Joe Navy Seal Frogman set with the Inflatable raft and night vision goggles.

FATHER

Oh yes.

SON

Remember how excited I was when I opened the package? How my eyes lit up as soon as I saw the edge of the box as I ripped away the wrapping paper? Remember how I squealed with delight when I realized Santa had brought me the very thing I really, really wanted in the whole wide world?

FATHER

Yes I remember you were pretty excited-

 

SON

Acting.

FATHER

What?

SON

I was acting. I already knew what it was. About a week before Christmas I was playing hide and go seek with the Goldfarb twins. I decided to hide in the storage locker in the garage. I knew they’d never find me there. When I got in there I noticed there were a bunch of boxes. When I turned on the light I saw all the presents. The James Bond DB5 Corgi car.  The “Magic Pen” markers. The G.I. Joe Navy Seal Frogman set. The Light Bright. All of it. Even the wrapping paper.

FATHER

I see…

 

SON

But I didn’t want to disappoint you. So I turned off the light and quietly closed the door and hid somewhere else.  And all that week and up to Christmas day, I acted like I didn’t know. I pretended it was all a big surprise.

 

FATHER

…well.

SON

I just thought I should get that off my chest tonight. Before Santa scans the house.

FATHER

And I’m glad you did, son. It’s not good to lie to your parents even if you are trying to spare their feelings.

SON

That’s exactly what I thought.

FATHER

(Putting down the paper at last.)

Besides. This year is our last Christmas.

SON

Our last Christmas?!

FATHER

Yes, son.

SON

But why? Is it something I said?

FATHER

No, it’s nothing you said.

SON

Is it because I lied and I didn’t tell you sooner?

FATHER

No son, it has nothing to do with you. Your mother and I have made a decision, that’s all.

SON

What kind of decision?

FATHER

Next year we won’t be celebrating Christmas. We’re going Pagan.

SON

Pagan? What’s Pagan?

FATHER

Druid actually. But don’t worry.

It just means we won’t be buying in to the commercialized hype of rampant consumerism and flocked kitsch that Christmas has become. We’re going back to the roots.

 

SON

(panicking)

The roots? What does that mean?

 

FATHER

Well, first of all, instead of celebrating on December 25th, we’ll be celebrating on the 22nd. The true Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year.

SON

Will there still be presents?

FATHER

No. No presents. Something better.

SON

Better than presents?

FATHER

Yes. Sacrifices.

 

SON

Sacrifices?!  What’s a sacrifice?

FATHER

That’s the true spirit of Paganism. Sacrifice. And the true spirit of Christmas for that matter. Giving. We Pagans give sacrifices to give thanks for the years’ bounty.

SON

But what about Santa and the reindeer and the North pole and the elves and Mrs. Claus and-

FATHER

We won’t concern ourselves with all that stuff. We’ll be Druids. We’ll make a ritual sacrifice to The Old Ones.

SON

Will there at least be a tree?

 

FATHER

Yes, there will be a tree. But it will be an oak. Or possibly an alder bush if we can get one.

SON

Will there be Christmas carols?

FATHER

No, but we will chant. From ancient Latin texts.

SON

Will we at least decorate the house?

FATHER

No, but we’ll daub our faces with the blood of the sacrifice to consecrate ourselves to the Order of The Ancients.

SON

Blood?! What will we be sacrificing?

FATHER

Oh I don’t know. We’ll start with something small. Maybe a seagull.

SON

(A pause as he takes it all in…then:)

COOL!

 

Well, I better get to bed. I want to be up bright and early to see what Santa brought me.

(He goes to his father and hugs him goodnight.)

Goodnight Daddy. Merry Christmas.

 

FATHER

Merry Christmas, son.

SON

(He heads towards the stairs, stops, turns back to his father.)

 

I can’t wait ‘til next year!

(He runs up the stairs.)

FATHER

See you in the morning.

 

(The father waits a moment and then goes to the closet. He pulls out a ten speed bicycle and some wrapping paper and tape and starts to wrap the bike as the lights slowly fade to black)

 

END OF PLAY

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