By Alden Frye
A husband and wife on holiday discover that they are faced with a bill they cannot pay; until a stranger offers to pay the whole cost.
ROGER - Middle aged man. Dressed in shorts, tank-top, and cap.
MELISSA - Roger's wife, similar age and attire.
SAM (SAMUEL or SAMANTHA) - Person in similar attire.
ATTENDANT - Young, formally dressed. Insincerely polite.
EMMANUEL - Older, kindly, patient gentleman in slacks and shirt.
(Scene: A sundeck or poolside, with three lounge chairs-two on stage-left and one stage-right. Two small tables for drinks--one between chairs on left and one by table on right. Magazine and empty glasses on each table. As skit opens, Roger and Melissa are relaxing in left chairs, Sam is reading in right chair.)
ROG - I'll tell you what…this is the life!
MEL - Yeah.
ROG - "Yeah"??… That's all you can say is, "Yeah?" I thought for sure you'd be loving this!
MEL - I am loving it! It's a great place!
ROG - But…
MEL - But what?
ROG - After twenty-five years together…I know when there's a "but" coming!
MEL - Well, it's just that… No, it's nothing, really. Really! Let's just forget about it, ok?
(long pause as both lay back to relax)
MEL - I don't know…
ROG - (sits up and stares at Mel) What?!
MEL - Well… I can't stop wondering…
ROG - You mean, "worrying!"
MEL - How are we gonna pay for all this?
ROG - Is it not in any way possible for you to spend one whole day enjoying life without having to ruin it by worrying and fretting about something? I mean, it's like you have this built-in breaker that just automatically trips if your fun level gets too high! Everything is fine, OK?!
MEL - I'd do a whole lot less worrying about stuff if somebody could make me feel more secure that everything really is "ok!"
ROG - Look, I can cover this, understand? I can take care of everything. I always do, don't I? (softens) Don't I, Hon? I mean, who are you gonna trust--your woman's intuition, or the man who has never failed you in twenty-five years - twenty-six actually? OK? So can you just lay back, chill out, and soak this up? Surely you can do that for a few days?
MEL - Hon?
ROG - Yeah?
MEL - Don't call me Shirley.
(Rog laughs and throws pillow at her. Both lay back)
ROG - Hey, I'm sorry I got mad. Look, when the attendant comes by, I'll ask him about the bill, just in case there is a problem. I mean, you are right. We do have to pay for all this pampering sometime, but I've got lots of room left on both charge cards, and I do have everything under control, ok?
MEL - Surely! (she throws pillow back at him, he tucks it under his head)
(Attendant enters stage right carrying tray with glass, which he brings to Sam, reading book in other lounge chair)
ROG - (to attendant) Sir! Excuse me! Can I get you to check on something for me when you get a moment?
ATT - Certainly, sir! I hope there's no problem. Remember, "If you desire it, we require it" is our motto, sir!
ROG - Yeah, so I've heard -- a couple dozen times already! But, no, there's no problem. Everything's fantastic! Right, Hon?
MEL - Surely! (giggles)
ROG - I just need to get a copy of our bill, when you get a chance, please.
ATT - But, Sir, your account is not due until you leave. We just keep an open tab running for those little extras along the way. This is an all-inclusive institution, remember, and we insist that you not be bothered by such mundane concerns during your stay with us. You are at our institution for only one purpose, and that is to have as much carefree pleasure as you desire! If I may be so bold, Sir, worrying only detracts from your experience. Now, all that aside, may I get you fine folks some drinks and hors d'oeuvres before the buffet opens?
ROG - Hon? Anything you want?
MEL - Maybe a straight answer to our question?
ROG - (ignoring her remark) No thanks, Nothing right now, I guess.
MEL - So I thought this was a resort. He called it an institution!
ROG - Probably just a local term. I'm sure he didn't mean anything weird by it. Can we maybe let that one go?
MEL - But he never did answer your question about the bill!
ROG - (very irritated) LET IT GO!!
SAM - Folks, there is a bill to be paid.
ROG - Excuse me?
SAM - I couldn't help overhearing. Shirley's right to be concerned.
ROG - (coldly) It's not Shirley, it's Melissa. And I'm Roger. And if you'll forgive my saying so, I believe I'm able to handle the problem myself. Thanks for your concern, though.
SAM - That may well be, friends, but I advise you to check your account as soon as possible.
(Attendant enters quickly, and addresses Sam)
ATT - (crisply) Sir (or"Madam"), you have an urgent phone call. You may take it in your room if you like. I believe it's your broker.
SAM - I need to take this call. Will you excuse me? (Sam exits stage left, Attendant picks up glass and starts to depart)
ROG - Before you run off… I want to see my bill -- RIGHT NOW!
ATT - If you insist, sir. I have it right here. (hands it to Rog)
ROG - (studies bill briefly, laughs, and crams bill into attendants shirt pocket) Buddy, I think your little computer system has a virus. Check it out and bring me a correct bill -- itemized! Actually, you might want to frame that one and put it on the wall in your office!
ATT - (takes bill out of pocket, smoothes it out and hands it to Rog again) (coldly) I assure you, that is a correct accounting, Sir! There is no mistake. We do not make mistakes in matters of such importance. Now, may I get you a beverage, sir? Madam?
ROG - (very angry) Actually, you can go to… Hey, we're outta here, ok?! We're checking out in the morning!! You idiots aren't just arrogant, you're incompetent!! Get me the manager, right now, and tell him to bring me the correct, itemized bill!!
ATT - The manager is not available. If you wish to check out, then that is your affair, sir. May I remind you that you entire account is due and payable at the time of your departure -- as outlined in the literature you received. Now, if you'll excuse me please. (exits stage right)
ROG - (irate, calls to departing Attendant) You can take your literature and it's ten pages of fine print and you can… Buddy, you will hear from my attorney very soon! Melissa, give me the phone! No, the cell phone -- who knows what they'll try to charge me for a phone call!
MEL - Roger, just calm down… will you please?!
ROG - Give me the phone!!
MEL - (reluctantly hands him cell phone) Hon, let me see the bill. (she snatches it from his hand, reads it, and covers her mouth in shock) Roger, this is insane! This has to be a mistake! I mean…
ROG - No kidding!! You think?! What is wrong with this stupid phone? I pay good money for this thing, and it let's me down at the worst time. (hangs up) Bradley's probably gone for the day, anyway. But he'll fix this, I know he will -- and deal with these idiots! I'll own this place!
MEL - Roger, I'm scared! I mean, what if they call the cops?
(Man enters from stage left, startling them as he speaks)
MAN - Is everything all right, folks?
ROG - Well, that depends… Are you the manager or the warden?
MAN - Neither one, but maybe I can help.
MEL - They've got our bill all messed up, and nobody will do anything to straighten it out.
MAN - Roger. Melissa. Be still and listen to me please. Your bill is correct, you can be sure of that. And it will have to be paid in full. It is not all your fault, but it is your responsibility. Everything is clearly explained in the literature. Your account must be settled before you can go free.
ROG - Go free? What do you mean, go free?
MAN - You don't really think that you can work that debt off by washing dishes and making beds, do you? I'm not making light of your situation, friends, but a debt is a debt and must be paid. This may seem harsh, but you should have focused on the literature before you focused on the fun!
ROG - But we've got credit! Good credit! I counted on that covering our bill! But I can't even come close to covering this insane "basic charge". There's just no way…This is an absolute nightmare!! There's no way!
MAN - There is a way.
ROG - (picks up phone again) I've got to get hold of Bradley! I'm telling you, he can make this all go away! (dials) I know I can count on him.
MAN - There is a way.
ROG - I CAN'T GET THROUGH. (hangs up in frustration) What's the problem here?
MAN - Roger.
ROG - Not now, OK? Can you not see that I'm working on the problem?!
MAN - Melissa.
MEL - Hon, listen to the man… please! Just listen for a minute!
ROG - (irritated) OK, what?
MAN - There is a way for you to go free.
ROG - (sarcastic) Well for the love of God, I'm all ears!
MAN - I'll pay your bill.
ROG - Yeah, Right! Let me try Bradley one more time. No, wait! I've got it! If we don't check out, they can't make us pay! They said our account is due "upon check-out!' Makes sense, right? I mean, it should work, right? I dunno, what do you think, Hon?
MEL - I think you should listen to the Man. Seriously!
ROG - But that's foolishness! How can he afford it--even if it is correct -- which it obviously isn't? And… why? Why would he do that? Why would you do that, sir?
MAN - Because I care. And because I'm the only one who can.
ROG - There's obviously, OBVIOUSLY, a catch somewhere, you know? Think about it, Melissa, it doesn't make any sense. How do we know we can trust him?
MEL - Well, we know we can't trust them! And, I love you Roger, but the reality is, Hon--you don't have a plan! This man is our only hope right now, ok?!
(long pause to consider situation)
ROG - I'm listening.
MAN - If you want me to, I'll pay off your debt. All you have to do is ask, and it's paid.
ROG - So how do you expect us to pay you back? Let's face it, we're not a real good investment right now. We have nothing to offer you in return, so… Thanks for the offer anyway, but…
MAN - You don't have to even try to repay me. This is my gift to you. There are no strings attached.
(long pause to mull it over)
ROG - And the bill will say "PAID IN FULL"?
MAN - "PAID-IN-FULL, PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE".
(pause to think)
MEL - You said "past, present… and future?"
MAN - Past, present, and future.
MEL - Then, does that mean… that we don't have to leave yet?
MAN - That's correct.
MEL - Hon, I don't understand why he's doing this, but I think this is our best plan. It's our only plan!
ROG - But… why? Why in Heaven's name would you do this for us? We don't even know you.
MAN - But I know you. And I care about you. I want you to be free of this debt. And this is the only way you can.
MEL - This is an amazing gift. We could thank you, but that wouldn't be enough, somehow? How can we show our gratitude that you're willing to do this for us?
MAN - Three things would please me: Learn to love me and get to know me better. Tell others that there is a bill to be paid. And please be more careful about how you live and how you play -- it's on my account, now, remember.
(long, silent pause, Rog and Mel exchange glances, she nods in encouragement and squeezes his hand. He turns back to Man.)
ROG - (meekly) We'd like to accept your offer. Where do we sign?
MAN - I already signed for you -- in blood. It is finished! Now, why don't you go tell the management the good news. I'm sure they'll be excited about it, too.
MEL - But, who shall we tell them is paying the bill? I don't even know your name!
MAN - Just tell them "I AM"... believe me, they'll understand!
(Rog & Mel exit stage right, holding hands)
MAN - (to audience) So, who's going to pay your bill? (pause) Are you sure?
Copyright Alden Frye, all rights reserved.
This script may be used free, provided no charge is made for entrance to the performance. In return the author would like to be told of any performance. He may be contacted at email@example.com