By John McNeil
A brother and sister are faced with the problem of how to react to a friend who has it all. Why shouldn't they have a piece of the action, too?
Tony & Karen (brother & sister)
Clayton (a friend?)
(Scene: Karen and Clayton are at zero position at rear of stage. Enter Tony, holding an opened envelope and airline tickets. He addresses the audience.)
Tony: An airline ticket! Actually, it's more like a blank cheque book. He doesn't say so, but the message is clear: "choose me, and you can have whatever you want. A piece of the action." Not just a piece, if I know Clayton. He never was one for a small slice of the cake. Only the whole cake would do. Not that he'd eat it all, to give him his due. He'd sell most of it ... for twice what he paid for it!
But there's strings attached. There always are with Clayton, even if they're not spelled out in so many words. It's been like that ever since we first met.
(Clayton and Tony turn. Tony picks up a small backpack - Clayton is already wearing one. They are now primary age children, walking along the street towards each other. Clayton also carries a large bag of sweets.)
Clayton: Hey! You new round here?
Tony: Yeah. We just moved house.
Clayton: I'm Clayton. What's your name?
Clayton: Have a Chuppa Chup!
Tony: Gee, thanks. (Looks in the bag.) Wow, what a lot. (Takes one.)
Clayton: Who's class are you in?
Tony: I think they said, Miss Ryan.
Clayton: Hey, that's my class, too. Good job I met you. Can you tell her I'll be a bit late - I have to go to the chemist for my mum. (He's patently lying.)
(Karen turns and approaches the two boys. Also carrying a small pack.)
Karen: Tony, stop dawdling, you'll be late for school.
Clayton: You Tony's mother? (He giggles, Karen looks daggers.)
Tony: (Unhappy about the interruption) My sister.
Clayton: (Offers the bag) Have a Chuppa Cup!
Karen: (Primly) No, thank you. We don't take sweets from strangers. (Sees the one in Tony's hand, and takes it from him as he is about to put it in his mouth. Throws it away.) Come on, Tony (pushes him).
Clayton: Suit yourself. There's plenty more where they came from. See you later, Tony ... when your sister's not around. And don't forget to tell Miss Ryan. (Tony is left in a dilemma.)
(Clayton and Karen return to zero position. Tony addresses audience.)
Tony: There's plenty more where they came from.... Clayton always had the best of everything - the best bike, the best clothes, twice the pocket money of anyone else. He was starting the next craze when most of us were just getting into the current one. We didn't have much money, but that didn't worry Clayton - he was always happy to share. It worried Karen, though.
(Clayton and Karen turn from zero position. Tony joins them. Clayton is showing off his new sports car to the brother and sister.)
Clayton: Power!? I had it up to 160 k's along Tram Road the other night, and I reckon with a bit of tuning she can do more than that.
Tony: (Runs his hands longingly over it) It's a beautiful machine, Clayton. How'd do you get hold of it?
Clayton: A few deals have done well for me, and I called in a few favours ... you know the sort of thing.
Karen: Yes, we know!
Tony: There's no way I'll ever afford anything like this, not with my student loan.
Clayton: Would you like to try her out?
Tony: (suddenly overcome with desire) Me!
Karen: Tony, no! You only have a provisional licence. Besides...
Tony: I'll have you know...
Clayton: Stop acting Tony's mother, Karen. Besides, I'll be in the car, too.
Karen: I wonder why that doesn't give me the slightest bit of comfort?
Clayton: Why are you so hard on me, Karen? I want to be your friend, not your enemy. In fact, I'd been planning to ask you to come with me to the Night Under The Stars Ball next week.
Karen: Me! (Stunned) No way.
Clayton: We could make a group. I know several chicks who'd be prepared to partner Tony. We'll do it in style.
Karen: Find someone else to join your harem, thanks all the same. (She stalks off. Returns to zero position.)
Tony: (Confused) Were you really going to ask her to the Ball?
Clayton: (Laughs) Just testing, to see what sort of reaction I'd get.
(Clayton returns to zero position, Tony turns to audience.)
Tony: Looking back, that was a turning point, though none of us realised it at the time. Over time, I began to see how Clayton manipulated people for his own ends. He was made for the corporate world, and became very successful and seriously rich. It was always at the expense of someone else, but what he couldn't manage with charm he would achieve with bribes. He didn't call it a bribe, of course - it was "sharing the fruits of his success".
Clayton tried a number of times to get me to join him in his enterprises. But for some reason I resisted. Perhaps Karen's example stuck with me.
(Karen and Tony turn to each other.)
Karen: Tony, I need to talk to you.
Tony: (Breezily) Meet me for lunch, then, okay? The usual place. I'll shout.
Karen: Tony, this can't wait.
Tony: (Heading off) Anything can wait for lunch.
Karen: Tony, listen. I won't be here at lunchtime. I'll be on my way to America.
(Tony stops, stunned.)
I don't know how to say this, but I'm joining Clayton. He's made me an offer I can't refuse.
(Tony tries to get words out, but is too shocked.)
He's offering me a new life. This probably comes as a shock to you, but I can't turn down the opportunities this will open up. I know I've always appeared to be antagonistic towards Clayton, but we started seeing a lot of each other just before he left, and I began to appreciate his real qualities. He only means good to you, too, you know. He'd have you like a shot if you'd give him a try.
(She gives Tony a sudden hug, then rushes off.)
(Tony turns to audience.)
Tony: I was devastated, to say the least. The foundation of my beliefs and attitudes had been shattered, and I felt betrayed. So what do I do now? (Pulls envelope and tickets from his pocket.)
Exhibit A, an airline ticket. Exhibit B, an invitation to Karen and Clayton's wedding. I love Karen too much to stay away, despite what she's done. But I hate what he's done and distrust his motives too much to go. Tell me, what would you do?
© John McNeil 1999
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
He may be contacted at: email@example.com
Or at: 36B Stourbridge St, Christchurch 2, New Zealand.