Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Waiting on Trains" free stage play script for 4 actors

WAITING ON TRAINS by D. M. Larson

For 4 Actors


Cast of Characters 
Verna: A ticket window woman who would rather not be working. She is rude, crude, and unacceptable. Customer courtesy is not her specialty. 
Kirk and Sue: Two business people who are waiting for their train. 
Rut: A gentleman, called a bum by some, who simply wants a nice quiet place to sleep.

Time and Place
Dec. 31, 1999. A train station in an overgrown hick town.

***
SCENE 1

(Lights come up on the waiting room of a train station. A woman, VERNA, sits at a ticket window R, filing her nails and chewing gum to the beat of a song on the radio. A businessman, KIRK, works at his laptop computer. He sits at the R end of long row of uncomfortable chairs that are linked closely together.  There is an entrance L, a doorway UL, and an exit to the trains DR. The voice of a radio announcer comes over VERNA's radio)

RADIO ANNOUNCER
And here's another hit that rocked the '90's as we continue our New Year's countdown.

(Song begins to play)

VERNA
(Excited) Oh, I just love this song. (Sings along with the song, badly)

KIRK
(While she is singing) Uh, excuse me. (She ignores him and continues singing) Excuse me...could you turn that down please... (VERNA still sings) Excuse me, miss! 

VERNA
Yeah?

KIRK
Could you turn down the radio.

VERNA
Sure. (Turns it down) Sorry, mister.

KIRK
That's quite all right.

(He begins typing again. She now begins singing again just as loud as ever even though the radio has been turned down. KIRK is about ready to skip the train and find a bus. Sue enters immediately after VERNA begins singing again. SUE rushes up to VERNA who stops singing. SUE is out of breath)

SUE
My train. To Seattle. Did I miss it?

VERNA
Not that I know of.

SUE
(Annoyed) 
Would you check for me please?

(VERNA quickly lifts cover of a note pad and then drops it again. Returns to doing her nails)

VERNA
It might be late.

SUE
Are you sure?

VERNA
Pretty sure.

SUE
Could you be a little more certain?

VERNA
About what? The train. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it'll be a train.

(VERNA smiles at her joke)

SUE
(Not enjoying the joke) I mean about the time!

VERNA
Don't get testy, honey. 

(VERNA stops her nail job and looks at SUE. Blows and pops a bubble at SUE. Glances at pad again)

VERNA
They called in and said they'd be in at midnight. (Closes pad) Or it could come at 12:01. It's hard to be "specific" about these things.

SUE
But that's 30 minutes from now!

VERNA
Look. Do you want the train early or do you want it late?

SUE
I want it on time.

VERNA
You weren't on time. Why should you expect the train to be?

SUE
Forget it! Just forget we had this whole conversation!

(Walks away)

VERNA
Sounds good to me. 

(SUE glares at VERNA who has returned to her nails. SUE turns to sit. Sees KIRK who is busily typing at his computer. She goes, still in a huff, to the very opposite end of the row of chairs. A phone rings in SUE's bag. A poorly dressed gentleman, some might a bum, named RUT pops up from where he has been sleeping on the upstage end of the row of chairs)

RUT
(Cries to sky) 
Hello!

SUE
(Jumps up when she sees RUT)
What in heaven's name?!

RUT
(Ring) 
Hello?!

SUE
(To VERNA) 
What's this bum doing in here?!

VERNA
Sleepin'

RUT
(Ring) 
Hello?!

SUE
Shouldn't he be removed?

VERNA
What for? He ain't causin' no harm.

RUT
(Ring. Stands on chair, arms to sky) 
Hello, God? Is that you?

SUE
Look at him. He's drunk.

VERNA
Maybe we're the ones who's drunk and he's the only one who's sober.

SUE
(Gets phone) 
Oh, you're just a regular philosopher. (To phone) Hello.

RUT
(Very intensely) 
Hello, God.

SUE
(This and RUT's next dialog over lap) 
Yes, yes. I'm sorry there's a lot of noise here.

RUT
(Overlapping) 
Yes, what? What do you want me to do God?

SUE
(Hand over phone) 
Will someone shut him up!

RUT
(Shocked) 
Oh, please God. Please don't be angry with me. Please be easy on poor little Rut.

KIRK
He thinks you're God.

VERNA
`Bout time God had a little competition.

SUE
It's not funny.

RUT
I never said it was funny God.

SUE
(To RUT) 
Look here you.

RUT
(Innocent, saintly pose to sky) 
Yes, God.

SUE
Quit calling me God. And...will you look at me.

RUT
I am looking God.

SUE
No, not up there; down here.

RUT
(Gets down) 
Where?

SUE
(Trying to get in front of him) 
Over here.

RUT
(Under chairs) 
Where are you God?

SUE
My name's Sue, not God.

RUT
(Shocked) 
God's real name is Sue?

SUE
Will someone do something with him? I have an important call here.

RUT
(Stands on chair, to sky)
Please, don't be angry with me God...I mean, oh great Sue. Please don't cut me off.

SUE
(To VERNA) 
Do something with him or I'll complain to your boss.

VERNA
Yes, ma'am.
(Goes to RUT) 
Okay, Rut. That's enough for now. Let's go.

RUT
(As he steps down with Verna's help) 
I think I lost my connection.

VERNA
We know, Rut.  You lost it long before this though. Come on. Let's get you some coffee.

RUT
(As they go into Verna's area) 
Funny. I always imagined that God's voice was a little more manly.



SUE
Thank God!
(Answers phone) 
Hello, hello...He hung up.

VERNA
Who's that? You're hubby.

SUE
(Mocking) 
No, it's not my hubby. It was a very important client who I may have just lost because of that "thing" over there.

VERNA
Chill out, honey. It's the holidays. Give it a rest.

SUE
I never rest. That's how I got where I am. Any and every minute of the day is open game and I take advantage of it.
(Pause) 
Why did I ever come to this little hick town? It's been more trouble than it was worth.

VERNA
Hick town? It has at least a quarter million people.

SUE
Like I said, "hick town." Besides I thought we weren't talking anymore.

VERNA
Honey. Someone didn't spank you enough as a child.

SUE
I'll be glad when I'm done with this place.

KIRK
(He saves his computer file)
Agreed.

SUE
What's that?

KIRK
I would agree that this trip has been a rather futile one.

SUE
You were at the meeting weren't you?

KIRK
That's right. Kirk King.

SUE
Yes, I remember now.

KIRK
And you're Sue.

SUE
Or God, depending who you're talking to.

KIRK
Huh? Oh, yes, the vagabond. Darn shame all that human potential going to waste. If he'd merely apply himself...

VERNA
Then he'd be like you and he'd be worse off than he is now.

KIRK
Look here Miss...

VERNA
Name's Verna, honey.

KIRK
Look here Miss Verna...we pay you good money to work here...

VERNA
The railroad pays me. Not you.

KIRK
Yes, but they get the money from me.

VERNA
Not all of it.

KIRK
That's not the point.

VERNA
Then what is the point, honey?

(KIRK is flustered and confused)

SUE
If you valued your job, you would show us a little more respect.

VERNA
Hey, babe, they can't get no one else to do this shift. They ain't gonna drop me no time soon.

SUE
(Turns away) 
This backward little town. I'm recommending we don't invest here.

VERNA
Good, 'cause we don't want ya'.

SUE
I wasn't talking to you.

KIRK
They say this will be the hottest market next year.

SUE
I doubt it. Who'd want to base themselves here? Between Miss Verna and the cows rollin' in all the time, who'd have any time to do business?

KIRK
(Becoming cold) 
I don't believe our employers would appreciate our conversation.

(Kirk returns to computer work)

SUE
(Glares at him) 
Businessman to the end. (Phone rings) I hope that's Charles again.

VERNA
(Suggestive tone of voice)
Who's Charles?

SUE
(Picks up phone. To VERNA) 
Shut up. (Answers, pausing appropriately) Hello? Hello, Charles. Sorry about the hold earlier. Train stations are the magnets of the lowest life forms. (Looks at VERNA) How's your party? Yes, sorry I wasn't able to make it. I'd like to make up for it though. Dinner Thursday night. My house. Yes, of course...yes, I'm in mixed company also. (Whispers into phone) Me too... I'll see you later. (Hangs up)

VERNA
I thought that was a business call.

SUE
(Feeling boastful) 
It was.

VERNA
What kind of business you running?

SUE
(Goes up to VERNA's window)
Let me give you a little tip on being a woman in the business world. When it comes to cutting deals, we have a little more negotiating power.

VERNA
Well, well.
(SUE wonders why she is even talking to VERNA and changes the subject)

SUE
Any new info on the train?

VERNA
Nope.

SUE
Have you checked?

VERNA
Nope.

SUE
Well, are you going to?

VERNA
Nope.

SUE
(Returns to chair) 
Then there's no use asking.

VERNA
Nope. 

(SUE glares at her, then sits. SUE puts on a headset and begins meditating)

KIRK
(Computer's power is low) 
Come on. (Hits it) My power's low! (To VERNA) Do you have an outlet I could use?

VERNA
Nope.
(To VERNA) 
Please. I need a charge!

RUT
(Pops up. Holds up a bottle)
Here. This'll charge ya' right up!

KIRK
(To VERNA)
Hurry!

VERNA
Oh fine.  Bring it back here.

(VERNA points him to door to her area)

RUT
Suit yourself.
(Drinks. To SUE) 
What some, lady?

SUE
What's he doing back in here?

VERNA
He appears to be offering you a drink.

SUE
I thought you threw him out.

VERNA
Life's tough, isn't it?

RUT
Hey, good lookin'. Wanna share a little New Year's cheer? I got a lot right here.

SUE
Get away from me you disgusting brute.

RUT
(Begins to think, which is no small matter) 
Ya' know. You sound kinda familiar.

SUE
(Stands. Crosses to VERNA)
Will you shut him up?

RUT
(Profound realization) 
You sound like God!

SUE
Heaven help us.

RUT
Wow. Imagine that.

SUE
I thought you had him removed.

VERNA
(To RUT) 
You said you'd go out in the hall.

RUT
It's so lonely out there.

VERNA
(Points to off stage) 
Go.

(RUT goes off like a whipped puppy trying to look as pathetic as possible (maybe limp and shivering from the cold as well as dramatic looks back at them for help which are ignored)

SUE
Thank you.

VERNA
When God talks, people listen.



(KIRK reenters)

SUE
How's the computer?

KIRK
Fine. I think my file got saved.

SUE
Careful. You're talking to the enemy.

KIRK
Sorry about that. I'm a little on edge because of the train.

SUE
Are you anxious to get back to your family?

KIRK
Hardly.

SUE
Oh? Trouble on the home front?

KIRK
No, just divorced.

SUE
So why the rush?

KIRK
I'm playing golf with my boss and some clients tomorrow. I'd like to get a little rest before then.

SUE
Always business, never pleasure.

KIRK
What about you and your phone calls?

SUE
That's business and pleasure.

KIRK
I wouldn't know the difference. 

(They both become lost in thought a moment. KIRK changes the subject)

KIRK (CONT.)
I wonder how the train's doing?

SUE
I wouldn't know.

(Sue returns to seat. Listens to headset)

KIRK
(Goes to VERNA) 
Excuse me, miss. 

VERNA
(Looks KIRK over, likes what she sees) 
Hi, there.

KIRK
(Nervous under her stare)
Could you tell me when the Seattle train is expected in?

VERNA
(Still eyeing him) 
Maybe.

KIRK
Maybe?

VERNA
What's it worth to ya'?

KIRK
Are you asking for a bribe?  Is there a comment card... I don't appreciate your attitude.

VERNA
Oh, don't get your panties in the bunch.
(Annoyed, looks at pad) 
It's be here in a half hour.

KIRK
But that's what you said before.

VERNA
Haven't heard differently.

KIRK
Are they stuck somewhere?

VERNA
Maybe.

KIRK
Don't you know?

VERNA
Nope.

KIRK
Well, thank you anyway.

VERNA
Sure thing, honey. Just let me know if I can do anything else for you. 

(KIRK returns to his seat. VERNA watches his departure with approval.  She goes out to SUE)

VERNA
Boy, would I sure like to do a business deal with him. 

(SUE tries to ignore VERNA. KIRK begins reading a magazine.  SUE is listening to her music and meditating. VERNA listens to SUE's headset)

SUE
(Noticing VERNA) 
What do you want?

VERNA
Just wonderin' what you're listenin' to. 

(SUE hands VERNA the tape cover and goes back to meditating)

VERNA (CONT.)
"Ocean Waves." Is that some new punk rock group?

SUE
(Snatches back cover) 
It's not a group at all. It's simply sounds of the ocean recorded on this tape.

VERNA
Why would you want to listen to that?

SUE
(Angry, yells) 
Because it helps me relax! Is that all right with you?!

VERNA
Sure, sure. Sorry.  Keep it up.  It's working for you.

(VERNA goes back to her area)

SUE
(Puts away headset. To KIRK) 
When did she say the train was coming?

KIRK
In half an hour.

SUE
(Angry) 
That's what she said last time.

KIRK
And that's what she said again.

SUE
Maybe the train derailed. 

KIRK
It probably hit a cow.

SUE
(Laughs) 
Probably. There's something interesting about this town though. For the first time I've been able to relax a little. I don't even feel like doing as much work as usual.

KIRK
I feel the same way about this place. I even wrote a letter to my mother. At least I think I did depending how my computer is.

SUE
It's such a weird backward little place. It's kind of like a homely dog that grows on you after awhile.

KIRK
Yeah, kinda like mold.
(Laughs) 
Kinda... I'm even talking like they do.

SUE
That will never do back in the big city.

KIRK
Ya' know. I darn near don't care.

SUE
I'd never get any work done in this place. There's almost this overpowering wave of laziness that hangs like a cloud over this town, making you want to nothing but sit and watch sitcoms.

KIRK
Frightening, isn't it?

SUE
And before you know it, I'd be married to some plumber named Mac and get pregnant. Pretty soon I'd begin to look like Verna.

VERNA
Beats selling your soul.

(SUE and VERNA give each other cold stares, then return to their own little worlds)

KIRK
Still this place might be an interesting venture.

SUE
So would ice making in the Sahara Desert, but I wouldn't do it.

KIRK
Where's your spirit? Where's your sense of adventure?

SUE
At home in my hot tub.

KIRK
City girl to the end.

SUE
You got that right.

KIRK
I think I could get to like this place.

VERNA
(Winking at KIRK) 
We'd sure make you feel welcome, honey.

SUE
There's nothing to do here though. I'm already bored and I've only been here a week.

KIRK
Boredom can be kinda nice once in a while. I think I could handle it for a few years.

SUE
I think you're nuts.

KIRK
It's better than getting ulcers.

SUE
True. There wouldn't be as many battles to fight... or victories to be one.

VERNA
You can't fight forever, honey.

(SUE is about to protest but decides not to)

KIRK
(After a slight pause. Looks at watch) 
Hey, it's almost the New Year.

SUE
(Looks at watch. Shrugs) 
Big deal.

KIRK
2000. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie.

SUE
Sounds ominous to me.

KIRK
I take it you're not very optimistic about the new century.

SUE
I try to never be optimistic about anything. That way I'm never disappointed.

KIRK
No big plans for the next decade?

SUE
Oh, I have plenty of goals.

KIRK
Care to share any?

SUE
No.

KIRK
Fine. Then I'll tell you some of mine.

SUE
Go ahead if you really want to.

KIRK
I hope to be president of the company by the end of the decade. The big guy's old. He'll croak or retire before long and I plan on being next in line.

SUE
No next of kin? No princes waiting to be king?

KIRK
Nope, that's the beauty of it. 

SUE
That must be nice.

KIRK
Okay, I told you my deepest desires. It's your turn.

VERNA
I can't wait to hear this.

SUE
(To VERNA) 
Do you mind?

VERNA
No, not at all, honey.

KIRK
Ignore her. Come on, confess.

SUE
(Thinks about it, but backs down) 
There's nothing to tell really.

KIRK
Come on, everyone has dreams. Where would the human race be without dreams?

VERNA
A lot better off than we are now, that's for sure.

SUE
Who asked you?

VERNA
It's a free country.

SUE
I often wonder if free speech was a good idea.

KIRK
It is if you're a liberal.

VERNA
ERA all the way, honey.

SUE
Can't we put a muzzle on her or something?

KIRK
Come on. You didn't answer my question.

SUE
I don't want to talk about it.

KIRK
I won't leave you alone until you tell me your goals for the New Year.

SUE
Sorry... no plans.  I think that whole Y2K bug is going to cripple our economy... I was hoping to get back to my bunker before midnight but I'm stuck here instead.  What a way to end it all...

KIRK
You're not fooling me.  You look like a very ambitious woman.  You've probably got entire lists of goals and objectives composed.

SUE
And why should I tell you anything?

KIRK
Some people like movies; I like knowing about people. The most unpredictable story I've even seen is life. With life, the plots are more interesting and the characters are more realistic. You never know what's going to happen next and there's always something about people that we have yet to discover. Besides, you'll never see me again so what does it matter what you tell me?

VERNA
I'll tell you anything, honey.

SUE
He wasn't asking you?

VERNA
Well, I thought he might wanna give me a try since I ain't being so difficult.

(Sue stands in frustration and gives in)

SUE
Fine. You want to know my goals? I want to be on the cover of Time magazine. I want to be rich. I want to hold the fate of Seattle in my hot little hands. I want the world to be at my door, begging and pleading for my favors just so I can slam the door in their faces. I want to grind mankind into the dirt and listen to them beg for mercy.

(Pause. KIRK is silent. SUE is turned away. Her voice is soft now with a hint of sorrow.  She sits again)

SUE (Cont.)
And I want my father to say "I proud of you" ...and mean it.

KIRK
(After a moment) 
I guess that's all any of us want.

SUE
(Still looking away) 
You, too?

KIRK
I don't think my parent's will ever be satisfied with what I do. They always want something more out of me.

SUE
I don't really know what my parents want. I guess my Dad wants success, but I think Mom would rather see me settled down and pregnant. I sometimes wonder if it might be nice be a wife and have kids. It's hard at times to come home to an empty home with a cat who could care less about you. But I don't think I could stand being a housewife like my mother. It seems so futile.
(Pause) 
I want to work. I want to get somewhere. (Pause) Yet, I still wonder if I can live without love. At times, life just goes a little too fast for me. It didn't use to be that way, but now I'm beginning to wonder. (Pause) What does the new century hold for the woman? Will we finally get on top or will we settle down? Or is either one possible? (Pause) If only they'd find a way for men to have babies, then we'd be fine.

VERNA
Amen, sister.

SUE
Sorry to ramble on like that.

KIRK
Fine by me. Keep going if you like.

SUE
I don't know why I even said as much as I did.
(Looks at KIRK) 
What about you? Any dark secrets of the heart?

KIRK
Well, my shrink says I'm just "trying to please my mother." Classic Oedipus Complex. 
He stops in disgust

SUE
(Sits) 
My shrink said the same thing about my father and I.

KIRK
Just call us Oedipus and Electra.

SUE
Killed off your father yet?

KIRK
No, not yet. I'm working on it though. Wouldn't want people to start thinking Freud was wrong about anything.

SUE
Just because Freud had a problem with his mother doesn't mean everyone else does.

KIRK
(Pretending to be a psychologist) 
YOU merely mock Freud because YOU see some truth in it don't you.

SUE
I personally would rather see my father shot.

KIRK
(Overdramatic) 
What?! Could Freud be wrong? 

(They laugh. VERNA is disgusted)

VERNA
What is this? Some kind of deranged Yuppie humor?

KIRK
(Ignoring VERNA. Looks at watch) 
We missed the New Year's countdown.

VERNA
And I missed my kiss. But I'll let you make it up to me.

SUE
Dang... the world didn't come to an end.  

KIRK
2000 is here at last.

SUE
Is that good or bad?

KIRK
What has you so down?

SUE
Oh, love and money. The usual things.

VERNA
You just ain't got enough of either, huh?

SUE
Nope.

KIRK
Maybe you've been looking for the wrong thing.

(They look at each other a moment, then smile.  Sue gives him a little kiss on the cheek)

SUE
Happy New Year.

KIRK
Thanks.
(Stands) 
What would you say to a cup of coffee? My treat.

SUE
Sure. Why not. I've got nothing better to do.

KIRK
(As they exit) 
I think there's a machine out in the hall.

VERNA
(Phone rings. VERNA answers)
Yeah? No lay over, huh? Okay. Gotcha. (Hangs up, calls over loud speaker) The midnight train to Seattle has arrived. There will be no delay as was originally scheduled. Please begin boarding immediately. 

(SUE and KIRK run in from L, frantic. They grab their bags and rush out R. They say the following as they go:)

KIRK
Hold the train!

SUE
We're coming!

KIRK
Don't let it go without us.

VERNA
I'm holding it tight, honey.

SUE
Let's go.

KIRK
Okay. I think I have everything. Seems like I'm always forgetting something.
(They're gone)

RUT
(Comes out of hall) 
Them Seattle folk gone yet?

VERNA
Yeap. There they go.

RUT
I thought they'd never get out of here.

VERNA
It wasn't so bad. The guy was kinda cute. I hope he keeps doing business here. If he does, I may have to go back to school and get myself a business degree.
(Remembers something)
Oh, no. He forgot his computer. That's okay, he's got money. He can buy another.

(VERNA brings out the computer and sit by RUT)

RUT
What's that?

VERNA
That business guy's computer.

RUT
How'd they get it so small?

VERNA
Beats me.

RUT
Turn it on. I wanna see it work.

VERNA
I'm not sure how.

RUT
Push that.

(She turns it on)

RUT (CONT.)
Look at that sucker light up.

VERNA
Amazing what they can do now days.

RUT
What are you doing?

VERNA
I don't know really but it's fun.

RUT
What's that mean?

VERNA
I'm not sure.
(Pushes a button) 
Ooops.

RUT
How come that disappeared?

VERNA
Ooops.

RUT
There goes another one.

VERNA
Where'd they go? I sure hope they wasn't important.
(As lights fade) 
Ooops.

(RUT is laughing and clapping)

VERNA (CONT.)
Ooops.

(Black out)

END OF PLAY


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