Bad News and Bird Shit
LIGHTS UP on THE MAN standing in front of a desk. The desk is so positioned so that the audience is behind it. There is a chair on THE MAN’s side of the desk. He seems at the end of his rope.
Hi. Are you in charge of customer service? Don’t tell me you’re not. Don’t lie to me. There’s no use.I saw your signage on the way in here. Had a big “CS” under your name. What else could that stand for?
THE MAN actually considers what it could stand for.
Cancer…shellfish? Doubt it’s that, though. And honestly, I don’t care at this point. You people have been treating me like shit and I refuse to take one more moment of it. I came in, asked the secretary-lovely girl, by the way-who I should talk to. She mistakenly sent me to HR. The woman I spoke to in HR said that this was a job for Joe in CS. So, she sent me to the third floor to talk to Joe. I walked all the way up the stairs and rolled my ankle, so thanks for that, all in search of this mysterious Joe who works on the third floor. Guess who doesn’t work on the third floor.
THE MAN grabs the sides of the desk and leans in.
Fucking Joe. So, I go back to HR. The lady I talked to said sorry and then laughed as if she didn’t just waste fifteen minutes of my time.
A thought occurs to THE MAN.
I should burn her house down.
He quickly dismisses this.
Nah, I’m a reasonable guy. Mistakes happen. Especially to idiots. Not her fault she’s dumb. Getting back on track, as I’m sure you know, Joe actually works on the second floor. But…not with customer service. No, no, no, no, no, Joe transferred into logistics last month. Now, you have the position that Joe previously held. Congratulations! And where do you work?
THE MAN lets out a big sigh.
The third floor. You people have wasted ninety-two minutes of my time. So now I’m going to sit down in this chair. I’m going to tell you about my day and how you people worsened it. Finally, you are going to help me out.
THE MAN sits down. He pulls out a cigarette.
Mind if I smoke in here?
Not waiting for a response, he pulls a lighter out and lights his cigarette.
Fuck it, I don’t care.
THE MAN inhales. He breaks into a coughing fit.
That is disgusting!
He puts the cigarette out on the desk.
I’ve never smoked before. Figured I might as well try it out. People enjoy that? Tastes better than bird shit, I’ll say that much. That’s how my day started. I walked out my front door, looked up into the sky when I spotted a bald eagle-mouth agape in wonder-and I got a face full of bird shit. Should of known then. Called into work pretending I was having car troubles. I definitely could have gotten off for my appointment, my bosses aren’t hard asses or anything, but I’d forgotten to ask beforehand. Sometimes, it’s easier to lie.
Something about this last sentence makes THE MAN deeply sad.
I don’t remember what the doctor said during my appointment. I tend to tune out bad news. And when the doctor takes you into his private office…you know it’s going to be bad news. I should clarify by saying that I don’t remember of what was said. most “Inoperable” and “a year at most” were phrases that jumped out at me. He seemed so composed talking about the whole thing.
THE MAN sits up straight, mocking his doctor.
Perfect posture. Probably made his mother proud sitting at the dinner table growing up. He did stammer a little bit, but it felt rehearsed. He was trying to make me feel special. As if my imminent demise was more important to him than the dozen or so other terminal patients in his charge.
THE MAN slams a fist on the desk.
I wanted to throttle him around the neck.
THE MAN gives an evil smile.
I figured it all out, too. We were only on the second floor. I could murder him, slip out the window and into the bushes, and no one would be any the wiser. Even if I did get caught, it’s not like I would spend much time behind bars. Plus, who would miss a prick like that?
THE MAN studies the face of his imaginary talking companion.
I didn’t, for the record. So, you can unclench your butt hole. No, my doctor is probably out on the links as we speak. It’s important for him to unwind with how hard his fucking life is. Funny when you think about it. And I do. Think about it, that is. I think about a lot of things. I can’t stop thinking.
THE MAN gets lost in thought.
My dad died of cancer. Bad pancreas, I guess. I had to watch him die as a kid. He was in so much pain by the end.
THE MAN shivers.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to bear it when I get to that point. You know that joke about how no one wants to become like their parents but we all do? Well…
THE MAN gestures to himself.
Yeah. I’ve been thinking about killing myself these past four hours. Wondering if that was a viable option. I could get it all over with. BAM!
THE MAN abruptly stands up.
It’s done. What would that do to my wife, though? I can’t force her to deal with all that shit. Plus her parents are Catholics so she’d never hear the end of it if I, y’know…
THE MAN mimes suicide.
She called me after my appointment. Wanted to make sure everything was alright. I told her that I got a clean bill of health. Sometimes, it’s easier to lie. The funniest part is…I can’t go home. Can’t bring myself to do it. I texted her and said I was gonna go catch a movie and I just walked around the hospital for a few hours. Going in circles.
THE MAN gets legitimately excited for a second.
I caught a glimpse of an eagle out the window. Two in one day! What are the odds? I wonder if it was the same one that shit on me. I love birds. My dad used to take me out bird watching with him. Even when things got bad…we kept that up. The last time we did it he woke me up at five in the morning and made me walk five miles to the top of a hill with him to spot a Peregrine Falcon. That hill was where he passed. I haven’t really bird watched since. I was hoping I could get back into it when I was older. Fuck that, I guess.
THE MAN takes a seat on the desk itself.
After a few laps at the hospital, I was feeling hungry. So, I stopped at one of your machines. “O’Hare Vending LLC”. I guess what I’m trying to say is…can I get my dollar-seventy-five back?
About the Author
Nolan Nightingale is a Senior at Susquehanna University majoring in Theatre Studies and Creative Writing. He is primarily a playwright. He has had one play produced (“Songs of Suffering: A Torture Play”) and another upcoming (“The Unwanted Statue of Horace P. Fuzz”). He loves writing some weird stuff and hopes that you enjoy this weird stuff.