Saturday, February 21, 2009

Week Five, Day Thirty-Four - "Once Upon A Time in the Church Basement "

“Once Upon A Time in the Church Basement”
Written by Joe Janes
2/21/09
34 of 365

CAST:
Edna, 70s
Doris, 70s
Mart, 70s

(Lights up on a prim and proper Edna counting money from a cash box. Her hair is held up with chopsticks. Doris is packing boxes while Mart is folding chairs and stacking them. Mart is keeping an eye on Edna.)

DORIS
I am so glad that my handmade knitted wool potholders were the first thing to sell at this year’s rummage sale. The whole set. I put so much time into them.

MART
Don’t they sell every year?

DORIS
I bring them every year. This was the first year I sold any. But, who knows? Maybe it will be the start of something.

MART
You might want to try something different next year.

DORIS
If it works, don’t fix it.

MART
Wool may not be the best choice for a potholder. (Doris clearly doesn’t get it) If you had to pick up a hot pot off your stove and you happened to be out of potholders and you reached into your closet, would you grab a wool sweater or heavy cotton sweatshirt?

DORIS
I’d use my potholders. Which have pigs on them.

MART
Of course.

(Edna finishes counting and looks concerned. She quickly recounts and checks it against a clipboard.)

EDNA
Mart. Count this.

MART (taking money)
Something wrong?

EDNA
Probably just my tired eyes.

(Mart counts)

DORIS
If my potholders didn’t sell, I was going to just give them to St. Jehoshaphat’s. They’re doing their rummage sale next week. Maybe they could sell them. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that. They’re Catholic. Not that that’s a big deal, but they’re just too Catholic for me. Who goes to church on a Wednesday night? Sunday morning’s all you need.

MART
187.

DORIS
That’s good, right? Sounds better than last year.

EDNA
Should be 202. We’re fifteen dollars short.

DORIS
Oh, my heavens.

EDNA
I checked the dollars against the sales sheet. Fifteen dollars is missing.

MART (looking at clip board)
Maybe the sales sheet is wrong. Maybe something got checked off that shouldn’t have.

EDNA
I have been running the St. Bart Rummage Sale for fifteen years in a row.

DORIS
Except for that one year.

EDNA
Except for that one year.

DORIS
When you had your eyes worked on.

EDNA
They needed it. The doctor recommended it.

MART
Carrying a lot of baggage, were you?

EDNA
The point being, in all my years in charge of the rummage sale, the books have always balanced to a penny. To a penny.

MART
Well, I don’t know what to tell you. It’ll probably turn up. (She puts on her coat) I have to go home and put dinner on for Ned. If I don’t, he’ll eat all the ribbon candy and then fuss with his dentures all night.

(Edna blocks her from exiting)

EDNA
You’re not leaving. No one is leaving. Not until find the culprit.

MART
The culprit?

EDNA
Fifteen dollars doesn’t just get up on its own and do a jig out the door.

(Mart sighs.)

MART
Okay. Fifteen minutes and then I’m out of here.

DORIS
She said fifteen.

EDNA
Interesting number of minutes you happened to pick, Mart. Is that number on your mind? Are you feeling guilty about anything?

MART
Yeah, it’s on my mind because we keep talking about it and it sounded like a decent number of minutes. But if it makes you feel better, okay, 12 and a half minutes and I’m out the door. Do you want my help or not?

EDNA
Sure. Help away.

MART
Well, did you do anything different this year from all the other years?

EDNA
The only thing different this year is that Althea Kuzman got a gopher-sized goiter and passed away and you replaced her.

DORIS
Poor Althea. Poor goiter.

MART
Edna, do you really want to accuse me of stealing money? Fifteen dollars? From a church rummage sale?

EDNA
I’m just saying you are the only thing different this year. You said all the rest. Hadn’t really considered it, but now I certainly am.

DORIS
I saw you put money in your purse!

MART
You did not!

DORIS
Yes. I did. When you were talking to Rod Libben about the rooster toaster cozy, you took money from him and out it in your purse.

MART
I was making him change. The cash box was all $20s. He gave me a twenty and I gave him a ten and two fives back. If I hadn’t, we’d have lost the sale.

EDNA
Good answer, Mart. Too good. Sounds like you may have committed the perfect crime.

MART
I volunteered because you needed help, Edna. And you’re repaying me by treating me like a criminal.

EDNA
Oh, I forgot to mention one thing that is definitely different this year, There’s a new policy. To help thwart thievery. No one leaves without me checking their purse.

(Edna grabs at Mart’s purse. They have a low-key no-win tug of war.)

MART
You will do no such thing.

DORIS
Sounds like something a guilty person would say. You can check my purse, Edna.

EDNA
One purse at a time, Doris. I’m interested in finding out what Mart here has to hide.

MART
You want to check, fine.

(She lets go and Edna stumbles back a bit. She starts going through the purse.)


EDNA
Used Kleenex…Several balls of wadded up used Kleenex…several loose cough drops…A wallet!...with a twenty dollar bill in it…

MART
Satisfied?

DORIS
If I were a crook, the last place I would hide the money is in my purse. That’s the first place anyone would look.

EDNA
Sometimes, Doris, you say the most brilliant things.

DORIS
I do?

EDNA
You do. Mart…strip.

MART
I have had enough of this. (Mart grabs back the purse; Edna retains her hold on it.)

EDNA
If the money’s not in the cashbox and not in your purse, then where is it?

MART
How should I know?

DORIS
She has an accomplice.

MART
You watch way too much TV, Doris.

DORIS
I only watch Cops!

(She also grabs the purse)

EDNA
What do you mean she had an accomplice?

DORIS
Rod Libben! I saw them giving each other the googlie eyes. There was something going on there. Bet Ned would be interested to know. He’s probably down at the Piggly-Wiggly throwing that fifteen dollars around like a drunk sailor on shore leave…in a grocery store. Buying meat. Good meat. Not “on sale” meat. For shame, Mart. For shame!

MART
Let go of my purse!

DORIS
Citizen’s arrest!

(Doris jumps on Mart and all three get tangled up and end up on the floor. They all three jump back up as quickly as they can brandishing weapons. Edna holds her chopsticks like a dagger, Mart has her purse, holding the straps like she might strangle someone, and Doris makes karate chop hands and says “Hi-Ya!” She realizes her hand are ineffective against their weapons. She looks around for something else and pulls off one of her shoes and says “Hi-Ya!” As Doris holds out the shoe, fifteen dollars falls out. )

MART
The money.

EDNA
Doris, how could you?

DORIS
What? That? That’s for emergencies.

EDNA (picks it up)
Exactly fifteen dollars. For emergencies?

DORIS
Very small emergencies?

MART
You were setting me up, Doris?

DORIS
I’m sorry, Mart. I was just trying to keep the heat off of me. Go ahead. Make a citizen’s arrest. (She goes down to her knees and puts her hands behind her head.) I’ll go quietly.

EDNA (going down to Doris)
Why, Doris? Why did you do it? If you needed fifteen dollars, I would have probably given it to you.

DORIS
I just wanted to finally sell my potholders. Every year I bring them, I even make new ones, every year, they just go back home and I end up using them coasters and little towels.

EDNA
Your potholders sold this year. It’s checked off the sales sheet.

DORIS
Nobody bought them. I bought them. I checked them off. (She pulls them out of her bra). If I was just going to end up taking them home with me, at least I could do it knowing you all thought they sold. Nobody wants wool potholders with smiling pigs on them.

EDNA (looking)
Oh, those are pigs.

MART
I thought it was Charles Durning.

EDNA
But why steal the fifteen dollars?

DORIS
I was going to give them to St. Jehoshaphat’s for their rummage sale next week and if they didn’t sell, I needed the money to buy them back.

MART
Too bad for St. Jehoshaphat’s.

EDNA
You’re not going to be able to give them the potholders.

DORIS
You mean, because they’re evidence?

MART
No, because I want to buy one.

EDNA
Me, too. I think Charles Durning is sexy.

MART
I can use them to set my candy dishes on. Ned’s ribbon candy denture drool tends to leave a ring.

DORIS
You’re both very sweet.

EDNA (helping her up)
Just trying to be a Good Samaritan. I’m sorry I got rough with you, Mart.

MART
I didn’t appreciate the accusations, but you found the fifteen dollars.

DORIS
Edna always gets her man.

(Doris hands them the potholders. Edna puts the fifteen dollars back in the cash box and adds five bucks. Mart puts in her twenty and Edna hands her change.)

DORIS (continuing)
I’m sorry I caused so much trouble. Good night. And God bless you. Both of you.

(She exits. Edna and Mart put on their jackets.)

MART
You were right. Something was fishy when her potholders sold.

(Edna hands her a black ski mask. They both put masks on.)


EDNA
Let’s go teach that bitch a lesson.

(They pound their fists and exit. Blackout.)

3 comments:

idjar said...

Hope these church ladies were written as elderly but sexy, like Jane Seymour, because that's the way I imagined them during the big fight (despite their names).

I was a bit confused with Doris having "bought" her potholders but still having the money. It became clear, but maybe "Nobody bought them. I checked them off but kept the money." Followed by the explanation of why she didn't pay for them.

Joe Janes said...

Yeah, there's some logic problems here that I need to clean up.

So, in the rewrite, I'll make sure that...

- It's clear Doris checked the potholders off the sale sheet without having sold them

- She also stole $15 to be able to "buy" the potholders at another rummage sale.

- The potholders themselves don't cost $15. If she checked them off AND stole $15, the tally would be off $15 plus the cost of the potholders. So, maybe they were just $5 and she stole $10.

- And, for my brother, make sure that when this is produced, the ladies portrayed by Jane Seymour, Jaqueline Bisset and Helen Mirren and have an extended slo-mo cat fight.

Paul said...

Also to clean up, NO ONE finds Charles Durning sexy.