A short play about Christmas by Ron Campbell
A used clothing store.
Inside Carl’s car.
Carl’s suburban cul-de-sac home.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
CARL …………………an accountant in his 40’s, going to seed. But hopeful.
RHAYNE …………….a hipster, could be male or female, pierced with disdain.
NAN ……………………Carl’s wife, a gal that was a real catch, 20 years ago.
(The lights come up on Carl, a slightly put upon but plucky man in his 40’s. He looks at us. Speaks cheerfully:)
I’ll never forget the Christmas I decided to murder my wife. I love the Holiday Season. I do. The decorations, the carols, the holiday buzz in the air. I love the hustle and bustle of last minute shoppers scurrying from store to store, the joyous feelings of expectation in the eyes of children. I love the crisp Winter air nipping at your nose. And Christmastime always brings back so many memories.
I’ll never forget that one Christmas…
I was one of those last minute shoppers fighting for parking with all the other procrastinators desperate to find the perfect gift.
I was shopping for a pair of leather gloves. I was looking for just the right pair. They had to be special. They were for my wife. I was going to use them to strangle her.
I still don’t know why I chose strangulation as my particular method. In fact before the Christmas I decided to murder my wife I knew very little about strangulation. What I did know was that it probably required a good grip and a decent pair of high quality gloves. Nothing but the best for my wife.
But then I got to thinking. If I just waltzed into a department store and bought a pair of gloves there would be security cameras and sales receipts and salespeople who might later recognize me in a line up. I’d seen enough of those forensic shows on TV to know you can’t leave a trail of clues when you embark on this kind of project or you’re going to get caught before the credits roll.
I briefly considered just walking into Walgreens and getting a pair of disposable dish washing gloves and calling it a day but then I thought: “It’s Christmas. It’s a special time of year. And that just wouldn’t be right.”
So what to do? I was at my wit’s end. The deadline was approaching.
In a last ditch and desperate whim, I walked into a used clothing store. The kind where people buy clothes by the pound and tattooed and pierced hipsters work the counter with a detached bored air that would preclude them from remembering an anonymous customer at the height of the Christmas rush. Plus it looked as if the place had no security cameras. Any gloves I found in there would have changed hands so many times as to make them pretty much untraceable. I walked straight to the counter, trying to look as nondescript as possible.
(RAYNE is a hipster, could be male or female, doesn’t matter. He looks up from the comic book he/she was reading, bored out of his/her gourd or at least pretending to be. He/She speaks in a dull monotone except when on the microphone when he/she speaks like a lead singer of a punk rock band.)
Merry Christmas or whatever. Welcome to Captain Aardvarks Odd Ark Resale Emporium and Second Hand Treasure Trove. Gently used, slightly recycled and inexplicably soiled clothing that’s strong on style and soft on the environment. Are you looking for something in particular or do you just want to forage in our repurposed dumpsters? There’s a bunch of new stuff in the designer piles over by the faux loading dock.
Gloves. Do you have any gloves?
Hold on let me check.
(He suddenly has a microphone. His voice booms out over the store’s speakers:)
Amethyst! Amethyst, I’ve got a customer up here looking for some gloves. He’s five foot nine, brown eyes, small mole on his left cheek etc. (add a few distinguishing features of actor playing Carl.)
He wants gloves. Do we have any gloves? This guy wants them. (Back to Carl:) Whaddaya need them for? The gloves?
(Trying to disappear, mumbles:)
(Louder:) My wife.
Your life? You need them for your life? Geez, sounds pretty important.
Oh, your wife. I thought you said life. My bad. (Back on the microphone:) Amethyst! The guy who wants the gloves wants them for his wife. And he really wants them bad. It’s like a life or death thing.
(There’s a distant shout from Amythyst from off in the stockroom.)
What? I don’t know what he’s going to do with ’em. How would I know?
(To Carl:) What are you gonna do with them, the gloves? These gloves you need so bad it’s like life or death?
(Getting fed up:) I just… need them.
Okay take it easy. No need to get your panties in a twist. Especially ’round here. We’ve already got a whole bin of twisted panties in the Lingerie Locker. Besides, it’s just a pair of gloves. It’s not like somebody’s gonna die if you don’t get some gloves this Christmas
In fact it’s just the opposite.
Never mind. Do you have any gloves or not? I’ll just
(Into microphone:) He wants to know if we have gloves or not. Amythyst! We got gloves?
(Distant shouts from Amythyst. Rayne speaks to Carl:)
She says we’re out of gloves. But there’s a bunch of boxes in the Bargain Clothes Compost Pit that just came in. Some kind of estate sale leftovers. Yes, here’s the receipt: the Marley Estate sale. Some geezer apparently died suddenly and his relatives dumped his old stuff on us. You’re welcome to rummage through the boxes back there. Might be some gloves.
(To the audience:) And so I did. I rummaged. The estate sale stuff was still mostly in its original packaging. It smelled of age and mothballs and neglect but it was actually quality stuff. An ascot from Brooks Brothers. A girdle from Gump’s. A dozen doilies wrapped in wax paper. And finally, at the very bottom of the heap, a rectangular box labeled “The Gloves. Do Not Disturb.”
( Carl opens the box. Creepy music plays.)
A simple, unremarkable pair of men’s gloves. But there was something about them. Something otherworldly. I just looked at them. And even as I did so it seemed that they were looking straight back at me. Weighing me. Deciding whether I was worthy. I stood there, looking at the gloves as they looked up from the box at me.
(From off:) Did you find any gloves, mister?
(Pocketing the gloves and discarding the box:)
Nope, no gloves. Guess I’ll have to try somewhere else. Thanks anyway.
No worries, dude. Thanks for coming in. Keep it real.
(Carl is now in his car. He speaks to the audience:)
I drove home through the Christmas traffic. The gloves sat beside me in the passenger seat. Silent. The traffic was bumper to bumper. We crawled at a snails pace. An hour went by and we had moved maybe twenty yards. The gloves just sat there, waiting. We finally crested a rise in the highway and I could see the long line of tail lights like a crimson snake stretching ahead of me into the distance. (To the gloves:) Well, I might as well try you on. It’d be silly to get you all the way home and realize you don’t fit.
(Carl puts on the gloves. Suddenly, one hand grabs the steering wheel while the other hand pushes down on Carl’s knee, forcing him to accelerate!)
What the hell?! Wait- that’s the shoulder, you can’t drive there! Wait!
But it was too late. Suddenly I found myself driving on the far left shoulder with my leg in a vice grip pressed hard on the gas! The crawling traffic whizzed by on my right as my left hand steered the car expertly past traffic cones and across rumble strips. I finally drifted across four lanes of traffic with a sickening screech of burnt rubber and somehow found my exit. Finally coming to a stop only when I’d reached my driveway at the end of our suburban cul-de-sac.
(Carl jumps out of the car and yanks the gloves off, breathing hard. To the gloves:)
What was that? What the hell was that?
(The gloves say nothing.)
That’s when I knew I had found the right gloves for the job.
(Carl scoops up the gloves and goes inside.
Honey I’m home!
(Carl’s wife, Nan, appears in the doorway.)
Carl, where have you been? Was that you that pulled in so fast? That’s not like you. And we just had the brakes done. What are you trying to prove? You’re Carl Cratchit, assistant assistant manager at ES Accounting Services, driving our bottom of the line Prius, not Mario Andretti behind the wheel of a Ferrari. Besides, that’s just not like you. You’re my little snuggy uggums not some macho Vin Diesel type. As much as I wish you were. That Vin Diesel is a dreamboat. My god. Have you seen his cranium? Perfection. They don’t make heads like that anymore.
(Feels around on his head.)
I’ve got a fairly nice shaped head.
You? Your head has more dents than a soccer mom’s mini van. And more bumps than John Merrick after a beating. But that Vin Diesel. It’s not just the head. It’s that body. My god. His muscles have muscles.
I’ve been working out.
Hah! That’s cute, Carl but you don’t have abs. You’ve got flab. Vin Diesel has deltoids, you’ve got hemorrhoids. He’s got triceps. You’ve got don’t even bother ceps. See what I did there?
Well don’t just stand there. Those dishes you left in the sink last night aren’t going to wash themselves. My mothers coming over to make fruitcake tomorrow as you should know and I need all those walnuts cracked. The nutcracker’s in the junk drawer. Do you think you could handle that? Or do I have to call the Fezziwigs next door and have them send their son Kenny over to do it. That kids growing up every day. Have you seen the glutes on him lately? He could crack walnuts with ’em, I tell ya! In fact get me my phone. I’ll call the Fezziwigs. It’ll be good to have a man around the place. Even if he is only seventeen years old.
I’ll do it. I’ll crack the walnuts. And I’ll do the dishes. No need to call the Fezziwigs.
Well then what are you waiting for? The clock to strike twelve? Where’s my phone?
Right. I’ll get right on it. I just want to-
Burn rubber Bubba! I mean for chrissakes, Carl. It’s Christmas.
(She exits. After a moment Carl takes the gloves out of his pocket. Creepy Music. He puts them on.
(To the gloves:)
Let’s crack some nuts.
(To the audience:
My wife had gone to Costco. There were four fifty pound bags of walnuts waiting for me to crack them open.
This Christmas I eschewed the tradition of using the quaint antique nutcracker that was clearly for decorative use only that my mother in law insisted I should use every year at this most hallowed time: The Eve of the Fruitcake Making.
Instead I used only my bare hands.
Actually I used my bare hands and The Gloves.
If there is a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for fastest shelling of four fifty pound bags of unshelled walnuts whoever is listed as the record holder is sadly not. And is, indeed, a distant second place.
(Carl does a 3 second mime of cracking thousands of walnuts. Finally yanking the gloves off his hands, he slumps, exhausted.
(Entering with her phone:)
What the hell was that racket? Are you making popcorn? Did you finally take some initiative to make some popcorn for the garlands for the tree? No. You’re slumped on the couch. (Into phone:) He’s slumped on the couch. I know, right? (To Carl:) Mom and I both want to know: Do you want Christmas or not? Because if you don’t want it: Fine. We’ll just do nothing. Fine. Mom won’t even come out. Fine. We’ll just enjoy the time off and just be with each other and let the world turn. Is that what you want? I mean really?! You know what that means of course. If we don’t have Christmas we won’t have Christmas decorations. Or Christmas office parties. Or Christmas Carols. Or productions of Christmas Carol. Or egg nog. I know you love egg nog. Or fruitcake. You can forget about fruitcake. I mean really. Is that what you want?
(A small voice in the wilderness:)
I love Christmas.
There you go. Now doesn’t that feel better? Now be a good little snuggy uggums and wash those dishes. (Talks into phone:) Let’s talk later. I need to do my nails for the pool party the Fezziwigs are having on Sunday. Merry merry.
(She puts the phone down. To Carl, who is staring into space or perhaps at The Gloves:)
Hello in there? Dishes?
I’ll be in the den. Doing my nails. When you’re finished with the dishes come in and give me a neck rub. I don’t know why I’m so tense! I’ll just be resting my eyes. You can slip in behind me. And give me a neck rub. But come in silently. What am I saying? You’re such a noisy mouth breather. You couldn’t slip in silently into a vat of corn syrup. Just try. That’s all I ask.
(Nan exits into the den. Carl looks at The Gloves. Speaks to them:)
First we’ll do some dishes. Then we’ll do a little neck rub.
(Creepy Music. Carl puts on The Gloves, approaches the sink. He turns on the water and picks up the first dirty plate when suddenly The Gloves clench around his neck, constricting his wind pipe. He is just able to croak out:)
Wait! What! I can’t- help! Nan! Help! The Gloves! Call 911!
(From off in the den:)
Carl? What are you doing? Are you doing the dishes or not? You know what? Forget it. I’ll have Mother do it. With her arthritic hands. Fine. She’ll do them. I can’t. Hello? Nails? Just get in here and give me that neck rub.
(The Gloves are around his neck, strangling him.)
Ah- Can’t- Can’t- Call 911! Call 911!
(From the den:)
Oh I get it. You can’t give your wife one single neck rub. You’ve gotta actually pretend you’re choking in the other room just to get out of giving your wife a little neck rub for Christmas.
(Carl is dying as The Gloves tighten around his throat.)
Call… 911. Call-
You call 911. My phones in there. If you’re so hell bent on getting out of giving your loving wife a neck rub at Christmastime!
(Carl has found the phone and with great effort pulls one hand away from his neck. He tries to dial the emergency number.)
The iPhone- I can’t- Can’t- The Gloves- Can’t swipe- Can’t- dial-
(The Gloves are too strong for him. They continue to choke him. He gets an idea. Starts trying to use his nose to dial.)
Forget it. I’m going to bed. You can forget about the neck rub. There. You’re off the hook. You can forget about coming to bed too. You can sleep in the guest room and think about what you’ve done. But on the top! Don’t muss the covers. That’s why it’s a guest room. It’s for guests.
(Meanwhile Carl continues to bash his head into his phone trying to dial 911 as The Gloves slowly squeeze the life out of him.
Turn the Christmas tree off when you’re done.
(Carl dies as the lights fade to black.)
END OF PLAY