General Script posted November 20, 2022 Chapters: 2 3 -4- 


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A Musical in One Act

A chapter in the book New York's Best: the NYDOE

NYCDoHD Spells Jobs

by Jay Squires


Act I, Scene 4

CAST OF CHARACTERS

MR. KINCADE: Manager of the NYCDoHD, a man in his late 40s. Dressed to the nines.
ZACHARY PATIPERRO: A young man, 23 years old. his blond hair uncut, a broken nose, a jagged one-inch scar on his forehead, otherwise attractive in a rugged way. He’s obviously poor and his clothing is indicative of this. Wears a heavy pea coat, and a stocking cap that he stuffs in his pocket when not worn.
BETTY: Co-assistant Manager. A woman in her middle 30s. Speaks little. Only visible when her desk is illuminated.
MARSHALL: Co-assistant Manager. A man in his middle 30s. Speaks little. Only visible when his desk is illuminated.
CHORUS: All the employees’ voices in unison.
GALLERY: A group of about twenty people, waiting for their numbers to be called. Some will have small parts. Some act as Chorus.

SETTING: The office of the New York City Department of Human Development (the NYCDoHD). A desk, Down Center, facing right; a straight-back chair in front of it, facing left. Center Stage, Right to Left, twin rows, five each, of similar “manned” desks (a chair in front of each, facing the desk), all in “near-total” shadow. Two of the desks in the center of the nearest row are occupied by Marshall and Betty. Downstage left, a private office door. Upstage, Center to Right, a bleacher-like gallery, nearly full of extras. On the wall above the gallery is an oversized electrical device blinking the next number to be called. The office entrance/Exit door, Upstage Left. Just inside the door is a Take-a-Number Machine. A large picture window adjacent to the Exit, Upstage Right to Left (about half of it eclipsed by the gallery), shows continually blustery weather outside, and occasionally, silhouetted people walk past it on the sidewalk, trudging by, bent into the squall.

PLACE/TIME: New York City Department of Human Development, January 1930, the beginning of the Great Depression.

~     ~     ~

[A SNIPPET FROM THE ENDING DIALOGUE OF PREVIOUS SCENE]

MR. KINCADE:
Mr. Patiperro, other than your wrestling matches with God, tell me a little about yourself.

ZACHARY:
But, don't you see ... it’s 
all been wrestling matches, Sir!
(Nodding, though, in concession)
However, I shall try. 

AND TO PROCEED ...

~     ~     ~

MR. KINCADE:
 I’m a very busy man, Mr. Patiperro.

 
ZACHARY:
 (Staring at hands.)
Yes, Sir …
 
MR. KINCADE:
(Sighing, fidgeting, then, speaking haltingly, with lowered voice)
I’m going to tell you something, okay?

ZACHARY:
Yes, Sir …

MR. KINCADE:
Fine. Twenty-some years ago, fresh out of college, I was given the opportunity of being the … ummm …

(casts a glance at BETTY and MARSHALL, who appear busy with their clients, then continues in an even more conspiratorial voice)
the historian for a confederacy of Indian tribes. The confederate chief, or medicine man … if that’s what they call themselves … had been given my name by my creative writing professor—
 

ZACHARY:
(Interrupting with enthusiasm) 
As I suspected! You’re a writer! Oh, Mister Kincade!

 
MR. KINCADE:
A writer … Hmmm. Well, so, we sat on their front porch swing. It was springtime.

(Beat)
If I accepted his offer, I would be taking my car. The chief—I’ll call him a
chief—was widowed, you see. His teenage daughter would be traveling with us.
(Smiling a distant smile) 
She was so beautiful.
(then his smile evaporates when he realizes ZACHARY is keenly watching him)
That day, she was wearing a tan, beaded, buckskin skirt—and her hair … her hair was black-as-tar—
 
ZACHARY:
Black… as… tar! Yes! Yes!

(Repeating as though he were riding a bubble of inexpressible excitement)
Oh, yes!

MR. KINCADE:
Her hair—yes, it was pulled back into two braids. And just as Hollywood would envision it, she had a downy white feather tethered to the end of each.

 
ZACHARY:
You loved her.

 
MR. KINCADE:
Love! Ha! Love? What did I know of love? I wasn’t over twenty.

ZACHARY:
(Looking at his hand in his lap)
But you did.

MR. KINCADE:
(Tapping the tip of his pencil against the application)
Anyway ... everything fizzled out.
 
ZACHARY:
Because the Chief died? Or—or the confederation of Tribes bickered and dissolved? Those things happen .... But—

(His previous excitement draining from his face)
But please tell me it fizzled AFTER you left … in-in your car … with the-the- chief and his beautiful daughter.
 
MR. KINCADE:
I told you it fizzled out! I was young. Impressionable. They could easily have killed me, stolen my car, my money…. They could have left my body in a ditch alongside route sixty-six.

ZACHARY:
Scalped, no doubt ...

(Smiling until he realizes its impropriety, then looks down)
That sounds like something a mother might warn her son against.
(Catches MR. KINCADE'S eye and continues staring until the other breaks eye contact)
The chief and his daughter
could have done all that. They could have, of course.
(Beat)
It will always be a question mark, won’t it?
 

MR. KINCADE:
Question mark; question mark…

[A long silence follows, uncomfortable for both. During this time, a NYCDoHD employee shakes hands with his client, who rises, a paper in his hand, and while he crosses to, and through the exit door (with the ensuing whoosh of weather), the number of the wall behind the gallery lights up. A woman in the gallery stands and makes her way to the empty chair.]

ZACHARY:
Mr. Kincade, I wonder … If twenty-some years of time could effectively be erased with—

(Snapping his fingers)
a snap of the fingers …
will you now … a young man, sitting on that porch swing next to the chief, but looking past him to his daughter …
(Leaning towards Mr. Kincade, not taking his eyes off him)

this time, will you say YES, YES, YES! Mr. Kincade ... with your blood on fire, will you shrug off the accumulation of your mother’s fears like so much loose straw she’d heaped on your shoulders, and—and in the spirit of adventure will you shout out YES, YES, and again, YES?! I WILL go with you! I WILL be your historian! And to his daughter … will your eyes make similar bold, but silent promises and wait for her silent smile to return hers?

MR. KINCADE:
(Cocking his head, then slowly shaking it)
As you said, it will always be a question mark, young man.
(Beat)
Now … now … let’s see if we can put an answer to another question mark. And it won’t even involve the snapping of fingers. Is there a job in the great city of New York that
you—you, Mr. Patiperro, are qualified for?
 
ZACHARY:
(After another searching pause)
I would like that, Sir.
 
MR. KINCADE:
(Turning the page on ZACHARY’S application, speaking dryly)
Aside from blah-blah-blah badlands on persistent ponies … and numbering blah-blah grasses on a thousand—what?—divergent hillsides? … can you tell me what, specifically, was your most recent employment?
 
ZACHARY:
Specifically?…

 
MR. KINCADE:
Si, Señor.

 
ZACHARY:
A question that deserves an answer without any elaboration or quibble. Sir, I was a mower of lawns.

 
MR. KINCADE:
Okay, then. Okay! A lawn mower.

ZACHARY:
In my new passion to be direct and non-elaborative, Mr. Kincade, I was a mower of lawns, or a pusher of a mower, so as not to be confused with the appliance behind which I pushed.

 
MR. KINCADE:
(Stares at his sheet a long moment. It is obvious that he is seething inside)
That you mowed—other people’s lawns—for pay?
 
ZACHARY:
Pithy, pertinent, accurate, Sir. Yes.

 
MR. KINCADE:
And when did you last mow lawns for pay, Mr. Patiperro?

 
ZACHARY:
(Considers this a moment)
Nine days ago, Sir.
 
MR. KINCADE:
Well … See? This is getting much easier … now that we are addressing specifics. And—I’m almost afraid to ask—but what was your reason for discontinuing … the mowing … of lawns … for pay?
 
ZACHARY:
The constable—
 
MR. KINCADE:
That would be … cop? Policeman?

 
ZACHARY:
The same—for the City of New York—and he impounded my means of employment.

 
MR. KINCADE:
Your lawn mower?
 
ZACHARY:
Indeed. I’d had it only a week—the prior one having been stolen from my stoop.

 
MR. KINCADE:
I’m sorry. And your question was, how can I get my mower back? By that, I mean the one the police impounded?

 
ZACHARY:
And the answer was … by paying the impound fee of a dollar a day and providing proof of licensing and insurance for the City of New York, the County of Bronx, Sir. I would then have heard my mower whirring merrily toward me down the hallway from the Impound Items room.
 
MR. KINCADE:
(Smiling despite himself)
I’m sure that would have been a sound for sore ears. But I’m going to assume you didn’t have the proof of licensing and insurance for the City of New York. Correct?

ZACHARY:
Nor the County of Bronx.

MR. KINCADE:
Tell me, Mr. Patiperro, before you mowed lawns for pay, what other employment did you have?

 
ZACHARY:
Before I mowed lawns for pay, Mr. Kincade, I was—a collector.

 
MR. KINCADE:
(Giving him the once-over)
A collector … Art? Antiques? Automobiles.
 
ZACHARY:
You’ve covered the ‘A’s admirably, Sir. I would suggest dropping down to the ‘B’s and ‘C’s. I was a collector of bottles and cans. The bottles I found, I returned for cash. The cans, and any collateral trash I came upon during my search for bottles, I properly disposed of as part of my civic responsibility.

 
MR. KINCADE:
(Dryly)
In the future, Mr. Patiperro, you might gain more initial respectability by calling yourself an environmentalist.
 
ZACHARY:
Indeed, I might, Sir. Point of fact, earning money while fulfilling my civic responsibility was not lost on my ethic. It actually buoyed my morale. Many times, I surprised myself by humming
America the Beautiful. And using the ingenuity for which Americans are famous, it was from the proceeds of the bottles—from which I uncluttered the environs—that I purchased that first lawnmower.
 
MR. KINCADE:
Well… there is a certain quasi-connectivity—
 
ZACHARY:
(Smiling broadly)
Oh, I like that, Sir.
 
MR. KINCADE:
Yes … between being an environmentalist to being a landscape artist—

 
ZACHARY:
Here, you flatter me, Sir. I grant you, I was a budding environmentalist. However … I pushed a mower through grass. I have no illusions that I was an artist. I was a mower of lawns … for pay.

 
MR. KINCADE:
(Staring a long, unblinking moment)
But you were an entry-level environmentalist and a mower of lawns. Mr. Patiperro, if only we didn’t have these pesky vicissitudes—your lack of experience. No, Mr. Patiperro. I’ve actually enjoyed talking with you ... but no … I just don’t see how—
 
ZACHARY:
(His face mirroring his sense of what was coming)
But experience is a gainable commodity. Years and years of work are still in me. And I’m strong, Sir. Look…
(Flexing his bicep.)
Here, let me make a muscle. If you wait while I take off my
(Starts to remove his peacoat)
—oh, but it’s so cold!—But-but I can do it, though.

MR. KINCADE:
Don’t bother, Mr. Patiperro.

ZACHARY:
There must be something on the wharves for me.

 
MR. KINCADE:
No.

 
ZACHARY:
(Leaping to his feet, startling MR. KINCADE)
Ha! Of course! It’s my nose, isn’t it? You can’t keep your eyes off its eastern cant and the scar the shape of California above my eye. I’ll bet you have me cast in the role of a troublemaker, don’t you, Sir? A thug?
 
MR. KINCADE:
(Turning in his swivel chair to BETTY and MARSHALL. As he addresses them, their work areas are illuminated)
A thug? Betty? Marshall? Listen, will you? I may need you as witnesses. Tell me, would I call a client a thug?
(The two shake their heads)
 
ZACHARY:
I assure you, I’m not a thug, mis amigos. I beg you to please listen.

(With energetic pantomime.)
The scenario: A right cross flattened a very handsome Celtic nose. Then, when I dropped my guard, a left hook sent blood and cartilage spraying the corner post off which my head then rebounded. In merry old England, the venue. My take, five quid. To staunch the blood and suture the gash took six. But it wasn’t thuggery, Sirs and Madame. The rules of Queensbury blithely presided. Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, quite a boxing fan, was ringside, I was told. That is, before he left to change his spattered shirt while I lay, taking the count.
 
MR. KINCADE:
(Smiling, as are his co-workers.)
It must have been quite an honor, though….
 
ZACHARY:
(Glances from one to the other, then smiling broadly, he salutes each and sits down)
To be sure it was an honor! Who wouldn’t be thrilled to be courted by the British aristocracy? To be one-and-twenty, and flattened by a burly Brit before a Duke. Indeed, a high honor!
 
MR. KINCADE:
(As BETTY and MARSHALL, sink back into the penumbra, MR. KINCADE seems to be struggling with his emotions)
No humiliation … No pain … Not even the aggravating itch of healing sutures ... No! All was an honor—a thrill …

[Here, stage lights fall full on MR. KINCADE but dim on ZACHARY, the EMPLOYEES, and GALERY so that ALL but MR. KINCADE are in a kind of twilight haze; as MR. KINCADE speaks and sings, they continue with their business at hand, unaware of him]

MR. KINCADE (Continues):
Why can’t you be rude, Mr. Patiperro? 
Why can’t your language be crude and your breath foul? 
Why can’t you make it easy for me to show you the door?

[Note to lyricists: Your lyrics should begin here]

[As the song ends, the lights return to as they were before]

MR. KINCADE (Continues):
(With a sigh of exhaustion and resignation)
So you were twenty-one when you baptized Duke Charles of Edinburgh.

ZACHARY:
(Smiling)
Yes, Sir.

MR. KINCADE:
Your application says you’re twenty-three. What was your experience between that baptismal bout and your several rounds as an environmentalist?

END OF SCENE 4




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