A Pawn Piece (1978 play): Act V
(Curtain opens with one character on stage: ROXY. He is a short, fat man with a rodund face. He is wearing a light grey suit, with a black shirt. Near where he is sitting is DEREK’s sleeping bag in the same position as the first act. The stage lighting should now be green.)
ROXY: Oh, woe is me. I feel so low. I’ve no job, no money, no future, and no home. I’m doomed to live the rest of my life, dismally.
(DEREK enters, speaking to someone offstage.)
DEREK: I hope to see you again. Maybe we can have another fish fry.
(DEREK, walking backwards and waving, trips over ROXY.)
ROXY: Ow! Watch where you’re going, young man.
DEREK: Pardon me. I didn’t see you.
ROXY: I don’t see how you could, unless you had eyes in the back of your head. Do you always trip over people, while you’re walking backwards?
DEREK: I’m sorry: I was preoccupied with saying goodbye to a very beautiful lady.
ROXY: That’s still no reason to be negligent with others. Are you, by any chance, the boy they call Derek?
DEREK: Yes, I am. What can I do for you?
ROXY: The name is Roxy, Reverend Regent Roxy, and deliveries is my present game. No, I didn’t say that right: let me try again. Roxy’s the name; delivery’s the game. There, that sounds better. I’ve been waiting for you.
DEREK: Have you something for me?
ROXY: As a matter of fact, I do.
DEREK: Who’s it from?
ROXY: Your grandfather.
DEREK: Which one, I have two?
ROXY: Your father’s father.
DEREK: He used to be a minister, too.
ROXY: I’m not anymore. I quit to go into politics.
ROXY: I thought there was a secure job in promising bright futures for people.
DEREK: How do you like politics?
ROXY: I don’t: my constituents voted me out of office.
DEREK: What made them change their minds?
ROXY: They discovered that the future wasn’t as beautiful as I’d painted it.
DEREK: Maybe you should have stayed with the church. At least your promises couldn’t be proven right or wrong, until it’s too late.
ROXY: In a way, you’re right; but ministers don’t make very much money, and I love money. There was no way that I wanted to live on the poverty line. Now I live below it.
DEREK: Couldn’t you have been a little more subtle about your promises, you know, a little more vague?
ROXY: In retrospect, yes; but when you’re fighting for every vote you get, your imagination tends to take over. As the leader of my party, I promised control of inflation, srength of the dollar, and increasing the employment rate. It didn’t take long for everyone to realise that nothing could be further from the truth. I even went do far as to work out a formula and graph the results, but all to no avail.
DEREK: So, what do you do now?
ROXY: Not very much. I sit around talking to people, running errands, carrying messages, and collecting welfare benefits when I can.
DEREK: What has my grandfather sent me?
ROXY: Birthday greetings.
DEREK: But my birthday was a month-and-a-half ago.
ROXY: He also sends his regrets. He forgot what the date was. Did you get his card? (DEREK shakes his head.) Damn mail service: I was hoping to improve it. At any rate, he was going to send you a book, but he forgot what your address was.
DEREK: A book?
ROXY: He wasn’t sure which one to buy because he forgot your age.
DEREK: When you report back to him, tell him I’m twelve.
ROXY: A decade plus two. More than half a score. Almost an eighth of a century.
DEREK: Do you like math, too?
ROXY: I’ve always been partial to figures, especially the female kind. 8’s and 9’s are the best. I prefer multiplication over the other functions because it involves adding to the basic figure any number of times you want.
DEREK: Do you have an eye for beauty, then?
ROXY: Naturally, I’m drawn to beauty like paint to canvas. Or is that ink to paper? Anyway, I write poetry, also.
DEREK: Do you? My father does, too.
ROXY: That reminds me, your father asked your grandfather, who asked me, to pass along one of his special poems to you.
DEREK: Great. What’s it called?
ROXY: I have it right here. (Pulls it out of a pocket.) Let’s see: it’s called “Upon Peace”. Sounds like one of those protest songs from the ’60’s. He wrote it when he was a teenager.
DEREK: May I have it?
ROXY: One the condition that you don’t read it until after I’m gone.
DEREK: Alright. If I must.
(ROXY gives DEREK a piece of paper.)
ROXY: Good, now let’s have a talk.
DEREK: What about?
ROXY: Some general tidbits: you know, words to the wise, gems and other rare items.
DEREK: Okay, shoot.
ROXY: Don’t say that: sometimes, I’m tempted to do myself in.
DEREK: But you know that it’s a crime, both legally and morally.
ROXY: I know, but th eideais still inviting. Now, where were we?
DEREK: Tidbits, gems, (under his breath) rocks in your head…
ROXY: I remember; I’m not like your grandfather: he’s forget his own birthday, if I weren’t there to remind him.
DEREK: I’m not so sure. He seems to be able to quote biblical references accurately enough, anytime he writes to me.
ROXY: Yes, but have you noticed that he quotes the book, chapter, and verse number, but not the actual quotations?
DEREK: Sure, but that’s just to make me look up the saying in the Bible. How else could he be sure I was reading it?
ROXY: Good point. I wonder if he realises it?
DEREK: I’m sure he does. Please get on with your words to the wise, etc. I’m impatiently curious to read my father’s poem.
ROXY: Oh ho! One of those “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurray?” lines.
DEREK: Well, you know the saying, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
ROXY: He gathers no money, either.
DEREK: I’m sorry: take whatever time you need. (Under breath) He probably gets paid by the hour. I hope not.
ROXY: No, I’ll keep it as brief as I can.
DEREK: Excuse me for being so bold as to say, “Thank you.”
ROXY: My even bolder advice is as follows: a) treat all people the same; b) tell the truth, if possible; c) don’t promise to do things you couldn’t possibly achieve; d) mind your own business; and, finally, e) keep n touch with your family.
DEREK: What a relief: I thought you were going to give me a long sermon.
ROXY: I’m sure you’ve already learned enough today.
DEREK: Not even a patriotic pep-talk?
ROXY: No, that side of me is gone forever, thank God. I hated waking up in the morning, knowing I’d be spreading more of that manure.
DEREK:You’ll come around; you’re a very well-rounded individual.
ROXY: I’m sure I will. Even though I’m poor, at least I sleep better at night, knowing I’m honest with all people.
DEREK: Thanks for all your advice.
ROXY: I’ll hope for the future. In the meantime, use it well to the end. Goodbye.
(As ROXY exits, the stage lights change to natural, again.)
DEREK: I’m glad I didn’t spend the day alone today. It was quite eventful. Now to read my fa6ther’s poem. Oh, there’s my sleeping bag: I can rest on it, while I’m reading. (He lies down) Let’s see:
A Pawn Piece
Today I talked with the cars,
And they told me they’re tired of refilling;
They wished they could stop all their killing
And park in a peaceful garage.
The birds, then, twittered a bit
And spoke of the ‘flu’ they’d caught;
They wished that they could be shot,
To be at peace to rest.
The dogs barked out their grievances
Upon the trees who sighed, ‘How they steal!’
And said that they’d make no appeal
For any piece, big or small.
The trees, then, spoke to me
And told me their tale of woe;
They wished the bulldogs would go
And leave them in peace in the park.
The cat who’d lived in hunger
Said nothing of her stomach’s need,
But talked of love, instead of food to feed,
Though a piece of fish would be nice.
The rock that sat in the pot-hole
Spoke of times when he was the peak;
As a mountain, he’d never felt weak:
Now he’s not even a piece of it.
Not knowing what to do,
I left them in their misery
And wondered if peace was worth the price
That these could say they were willing to pay…
(DEREK paused, then closed his eyes.)
DEREK: What a strange poem. I wonder what my father meant. (He lays down.) I’m feeling so tired, all of a sudden.
(The lights black out with a single spotlight resting on DEREK’s face. The spotlight then expands, as in the first act’s opening, to show the surrounding forest. He opens his eyes, yawns, stretches his arms and gets up.)
DEREK: Good morning, world. What a good sleep I’ve had. Funny, I don’t remember dreaming. I usually do. (Yawning again) well, what do I have planned today? Nothing much, I’m afraid. I’ll just have to see what comes along. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have an exciting adventure today.
(With DEREK’s final word, he freezes into an immobile state. The curtain comes down for the END.)