Written by Joe Janes
78 of 365
(In the dark, we hear the soft cooing and clucking of chickens. And then a knock on a door. A light comes on. We see Orlando, 50, near a light switch on the wall. He has a rifle. Onstage, are four chickens walking about. And by chickens, I mean actors. Who can afford live chickens? There’s another knock. Orlando crosses to the other side of the stage to the door.)
ORLANDOWho is there?
SAM (off)My name is Sam.
ORLANDOWhat is the password?
SAMOh. Um. Oh! “To get to the other side.”
(Orlando opens the door. Sam, a mild-mannered young man, enters.)
SAMHi. You must be Orlando. My name is Sam. (He holds out his hand. Orlando does not take it.)
ORLANDOWho told you to come here?
SAMA man. At the grocery store. He heard me complaining to the produce guy about the price and quality of their poultry. He trailed me out into the parking lot and told me I could get fresh, organic chicken from you. Cheap.
ORLANDOThat man lied to you. I do not sell “poultry.”
SAMBut, these look like chickens here. In your living room.
ORLANDOThese are my pets. They are like family to me. I could never part with them. This one is Spot. This one is Rover. That one is Fido. And this here is Senor Bawk-Bawk. Senor Bawk-Bawk, who is a good boy? Who is a good boy? …My pets.
SAMThe guy was pretty clear. He said I could come here and you would hook me up. I’m just trying to stop taking it on the chin from the man.
ORLANDOThere is a man giving it to you on your chin?
SAMYou know, greedy corporate America. Factory farms.
ORLANDOYou should go.
SAMDid I do or say something I shouldn’t have? I had the right password.
(Carlos enters from another room.)
CARLOSWait. Poppa, sell the man a chicken.
SAMThat’s the guy I was talking about.
ORLANDOSell the man a chicken. Just like that?
CARLOSPoppa, please. He needs it. We need the money.
ORLANDOMy son says to sell you a chicken. Which one do you want?
ORLANDONot Senor Bawk-Bawk.
ORLANDOVery well. (Orlando puts his rifle down, grabs Fido and snaps his neck. During his monologue, he plucks and dresses Fido using a knife he pulls from his back pocket.) When I came to this country, I worked on a farm in the southern part of the state. Acres of land. Acres. Covered with corn, sheep, chickens and several cows. I started there as a teenage boy. I fell in love with the farmer’s daughter.
CARLOSPlease. Do not joke. He has a sharp knife in my hand.
ORLANDOAs I was saying, Mahtilda’s father passed away and willed the land to us. Our family now ran the farm. Then the big corporations moved in. Wal-Mart moved in. No one wanted my wares any more. My wife left me. My children moved on. All except for Carlos. Maybe because he loves his poppa too much. Maybe because he is stupid. Now, I collect welfare and live in this tiny apartment. But farming is still in my blood. I raise chickens. I grow corn in the bath tub. There’s a sheep named Hilde in the bedroom. She’s not for sale. Here, Carlos. Take Fido’s carcass and wrap it up nice for Sam.
(He hands Fido off to Carlos who exits.)
SAMThank you. This means so much more to me than just picking up something half-frozen and wrapped in plastic and styro-foam.
ORLANDOTreat it well. Cook it slowly. Roast it. 350 degrees, two hours. Lightly coated in canola oil and kosher salt. Do not fry it. Savor every bite.
(Carlos returns with Fido wrapped in butcher paper and hands it to Sam.)
SAMHow much do I owe you?
ORLANDOThere is no price I can put on the gift of one of God’s creatures for your table.
(Sam opens his wallet and takes out a twenty.)
SAMAll I have is this twenty-
ORLANDO (snatching it)That’ll be fine.
SAMOh- Uh. Okay. You know what. It’s worth it. I’m giving it to someone who cares.
(Sam awkwardly hugs Orlando and leaves.)
ORLANDOYou gave him that thawed out frozen crap we bought at Costco, right?
CARLOSFido’s roasting in the oven.
ORLANDO (cleaning his knife)Bring Hilde out of the bedroom. I think she and I are going to have a romantic dinner tonight.
(Carlos exits. Lights fade.)