A Sunny day in park
A sunny day in the park. There is a single bench CENTRE stage. GOD is sitting on the LEFT side of the bench. He has long, white hair and a long, white beard, and is wearing a simple white robe. He is reading a newspaper. Enter PETER from the RIGHT. He is wearing black pants, leather shoes, a white shirt and a garish, comical tie. He is carrying a paper bag. PETER sits on the bench next to GOD, setting his bag next to him. He folds his hands and admires the weather.
PETER. Beautiful weather today.
GOD [focusing on his newspaper]. Mm-hm.
PETER. [Extending his hand] The name’s Peter.
GOD [shaking PETER’s hand]. God.
[GOD returns his attention to his newspaper.]
PETER. Um… God?
PETER. Not to be rude, but… your name is God?
GOD. I am God. Or at least I was God.
PETER. I… see.
GOD. You don’t believe me.
PETER. Would you?
GOD. No. But it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in me. I’m not God anymore.
PETER. Why not?
GOD. I stopped.
PETER. You stopped being God?
GOD. Yes. It was far too stressful.
PETER. How can you stop being God?
GOD. I’m God, I can do anything. Or at least I could do anything.
PETER. Can you go back to being God?
GOD. No. I can’t do everything anymore.
PETER. Because you’re not God anymore.
GOD. Haven’t we been over this already?
PETER [muttered to himself, shaking his head]. God.
GOD. What is it?
PETER. Nothing, I only-
GOD. You want proof, don’t you? You people always want proof.
GOD. Fine. Here. Your name is Peter Keyes. Your birthday was yesterday. You turned thirty. Shall I go on?
PETER [sputtering]. What… how did…
GOD. Because I remember. I used to know everything. That included the little things.
PETER. So you really are…
GOD. Was. And by the way, that secretary you always flirt with used to be a man.
[There is a pause. GOD returns his focus to his newspaper. PETER takes out a sandwich from his bag. He takes a bite and chews it, his glances constantly going back to GOD.]
PETER [after swallowing his bite]. So, God. What’s it like in Heaven?
GOD. It’s alright.
PETER. “Alright”? It’s only “alright”?
GOD. You might like it.
PETER. I “might”?
GOD. You have a very annoying habit of repeating what I say, did you know that?
PETER. I’m just surprised that eternal salvation is only “alright”.
GOD. It’s not much worse than where you go if you’ve sinned.
PETER [taking another bite of his sandwich]. Hell?
PETER [Stops in mid-chew]. Quebec.
PETER. The province.
GOD. The one and only.
PETER. That’s where you go if you’ve sinned.
GOD [nodding]. Quebec.
PETER. I thought the bible said “hell”.
GOD. That’s a typo.
PETER. You make the mysteries of the universe seem very simple.
GOD. They are.
PETER [leaning]. Alright then… here’s another one for you.
GOD. Go ahead.
PETER. How did the universe begin?
GOD. I don’t know. It was here when I got here.
PETER. When you… got here? You mean you haven’t always been around?
GOD. I’ve always been around. And since I need somewhere to exist, the universe has always been around as well. We pretty much arrived here at the same time.
PETER. Not even you know how the universe came into being?
GOD. Is it important?
GOD. Is it required knowledge for your day to day existence?
PETER. Well, no, but…
GOD. Then who cares?
PETER. Never mind. [Finishes his sandwich, and notices the article GOD is reading] I heard about that. Nine dead, twenty three injured? What a shame.
GOD. Yeah, sucks to be them.
PETER [incredulously]. Sucks to be them? Shouldn’t you be a little bit more compassionate?
GOD. Why? I don’t know them.
PETER. But… but you’re God!
GOD. Was God.
PETER. Are, was, what does it matter? I would think that even a former supreme being would be more empathetic.
GOD. It’s not like I had anything to do with it.
PETER. People died!
GOD. Montreal is nice this time of year.
PETER. Were you like this when you were still God?
GOD. More or less. You’d be surprised how quickly you tire of altruism.
PETER. So you just sat back and let people suffer?
GOD. No, I delegated suffering detail to a couple underlings. I mostly worked with irony.
PETER. Like what?
GOD. Like the one time I hit a guy with a truck while he was chasing after his winning lottery ticket.
PETER. That’s horrible!
GOD. It’s funny, and you know it. I got tired of it eventually, anyway.
PETER. I thought you were a being of infinite patience.
GOD. There are many misconceptions.
PETER. So who’s in charge now that you’re gone?
GOD. Ian. He’s a dick.
GOD. Yeah. Watch your step with Ian.
PETER. Who’s Ian?
GOD. The Supreme Being now, I suppose.
PETER. Was he an angel?
GOD. Yeah. He’s also a complete dick.
PETER. I’m guessing you don’t like him.
GOD. No one really did. He’d always ask for money and then never pay us back. And he smelled.
PETER. So how did he become God?
GOD. It just turned out that way.
GOD. Not entirely. He won the raffle.
PETER. There was a raffle to decide who would become God…
GOD. I won a toaster.
PETER. …And now the new God… is a dick.
GOD. Yeah. Watch your step.
PETER. How so?
GOD. He’s letting the new position get to his head. So just watch out for the minor stuff. Floss after every meal, don’t step on the cracks, that kind of thing.
PETER. How do I know what to do and what not to do?
GOD. He’ll probably kill your dog or set your house on fire or something.
GOD. He was never subtle.
PETER. That’s terrible!
GOD. By the way, what kind of sandwich was that?
PETER. Uh, ham and cheese.
PETER. What? What is it?
GOD. Ian's a vegan.
PETER. He is?
[A fire engine siren is heard nearby.]
GOD. That’ll be for you.
PETER [rising]. My house!
GOD. I hope nothing important was in there.
PETER. Everything was in there!
GOD. Well, not anymore.
PETER. I don’t believe this…
GOD. Sit down, you’re making me nervous.
PETER. I’m making you nervous? I’m making you nervous? Well excuse me, but my house just burned down due to a deity’s culinary tastes!
GOD. You’ll get used to it.
PETER. I’ll get used to something horrible happening after doing something minor?
GOD. You don’t have much choice, do you?
[PETER attempts to formulate a retort, but finds himself unable. He picks up his bag.]
PETER. This is your fault, you know.
GOD. Oh sure, blame me.
PETER. It’s your fault the universe is now ruled by a… a tyrant.
GOD. It’s always my fault. You humans are always looking for a scapegoat, and it’s almost always me. You should be more like platypuses.
GOD. Platypuses. I mean, just look at them. They’re ridiculous. But I never hear a complaint out of them. Not one.
PETER. That’s because they’re not capable of complaints.
GOD. I suppose you think of that as a bad thing.
PETER. I think of sentient thought as a good thing.
GOD. Enabling you to complain?
[A cell phone rings. GOD takes it from a pocket, but does not answer it. He allows it to ring again. And again. And again.]
PETER [with sudden impatience]. Are you going to answer that?
GOD. I always let the phone ring a few times. Keeps them on their toes.
[GOD puts a finger to his lips to silence PETER and finally answers the phone.]
GOD. Talk to me. Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Uh-huh. Yeah. Yeah, alright, I’ll be there in five. See you then. [Putting his cell phone away, getting up] It’s been nice talking to you, Paul.
GOD. Whatever. Maybe we’ll see each other again some time.
PETER. Hmph. [Goes to exit RIGHT]
GOD. Oh, and Peter…
PETER. [Stopping] What?
GOD. Ian hates novelty ties.
[PETER opens his mouth to say something, but suddenly freezes. He clutches at his heart and falls to the ground. GOD walks to his body and nudges it with his foot, then takes his pulse.]
GOD. Oh my. [Into PETER’s ear, loudly, as if that would make him be heard] BE SURE TO VISIT LA RONDE.
[GOD looks at the body for one more second, shrugs, and exits stage LEFT.]
[Lights out for three seconds.]
[Lights on. PETER rises, moaning and clutching his heart. DEATH stands over him.]
[DEATH is dressed in black robes and sandals and carries a scythe.]
PETER. Ugh… what just happened?
DEATH. You died. Heart attack.
DEATH. Well what?
PETER. Don’t I go somewhere now?
DEATH [taking a seat on the RIGHT of the bench]. Uh… I guess you could go down to that Tim Hortons and grab me a coffee or something.
PETER [annoyed]. That’s not what I meant.
DEATH. Well what do you want?
PETER. I’m dead! You’re supposed to take me to heaven or… Quebec, I guess.
DEATH. Oh, that.
Yeah, I’m not going to do that.
[DEATH kicks off his sandals and reclines on the bench]
PETER [visibly annoyed, but keeping himself in check]. And why not?
DEATH. Well, today’s my last day, and to be honest, I don’t really care.
PETER. Don’t tell me you’re quitting like God did.
DEATH. Oh no, no. It doesn’t work that way. I’m not the only Death.
PETER. There’s more than one Death?
DEATH. Well, yeah. You think one guy could handle all the deaths in the world himself? Do you believe in Santa Claus, too?
PETER. At this point, I’m willing to believe anything.
DEATH. I’m only one Death out of many. At least until tomorrow. I’m quitting. Nothing but a glorified taxi service, if you ask me.
PETER. So what happens to me?
DEATH. I dunno. You could hang around here for a while.
PETER. How long is “a while”?
DEATH [considering it]. Probably… eternity, more or less.
PETER. That’s a little bit longer than “a while”.
DEATH. Well if you’re going to get all linguistic on me…
PETER. I think I have a valid reason to be upset.
DEATH. What do you want me to do?
PETER [exasperated]. Your job!
DEATH. That’s not happening.
PETER. What will you do, then? I need to go somewhere.
DEATH [sitting up]. Alright, alright, don’t get your panties in a bunch. Let me get some friends, we’ll sort this out.
[DEATH rises and begins to exit.]
PETER. This would be a lot easier if you just did what you were supposed to do.
DEATH [as he exits RIGHT]. Wah, wah, wah.
[PETER takes a seat on the far LEFT of the bench. DEATH re-enters from the RIGHT followed by JESUS and SATAN. JESUS is wearing a white robe and has a golden halo around his head, but looks bitter. An unlit cigarette dangles from his lips. SATAN is wearing a black trenchcoat, over a black shirt, black pants and black boots. The paleness of his skin is accentuated by his black make-up.]
PETER. That was quick.
DEATH [to JESUS and SATAN, gesturing toward PETER]. That’s the guy. Work your magic, do what you do. I’m out.
[DEATH exits RIGHT. JESUS crosses to stand at Peter’s LEFT. JESUS looks him over, scowling. Finally, JESUS nudges PETER in the ribs, slightly harder than necessary.]
JESUS. Shove over.
PETER [moving over as JESUS sits on the bench’s LEFT]. You’re… Jesus?
JESUS [taking a lighter from his pocket]. What about it?
PETER [as JESUS lights the cigarette]. You smoke?
JESUS. Oh fuck, don’t tell me you're one of those shitheads. If you don’t like the smoke, move to the bench over there, asshole.
[SATAN takes a seat on Peter’s RIGHT, taking up the remaining space on the bench. He takes a notepad and pencil from within his trenchcoat and begins to write.]
PETER [dryly, to JESUS]. You seem surly.
JESUS. Shut up.
SATAN [deep in thought, tapping his pencil against his lips as he mutters to himself] Pain… rain… brain… [nodding] brain.
[SATAN continues writing. PETER looks over his shoulder. When SATAN notices, he quickly covers up his work.]
PETER. I was just seeing what you were writing.
SATAN. It’s poetry. Personal poetry. You wouldn’t understand, nobody will understand, nobody ever understands…
[SATAN trails off into silence. Suddenly, with a furor, he rips out the page he was writing on, crumples it into a ball and throws it aside. He begins to write anew. PETER looks to his left at SATAN, looks at JESUS, then looks at SATAN again. He is not impressed.]
PETER. Are you guys here for a reason, or should I just…
JESUS [interrupting]. Shut up! I’m not done my cigarette.
PETER. Forget your stupid cigarette.
JESUS [flabbergasted at PETER’s audacity] What did you say to me?
PETER. I said-
JESUS [loudly] What did you say to me?
PETER. I said-
[JESUS punches PETER in the face.]
PETER [clutching his jaw]. Christ!
JESUS [mostly to himself]. Fucking punk.
SATAN [to himself, as he writes] My heart is like… charcoal… black… and brittle… except… not used… to fuel… small barbecues… except the barbecue… of death’s embrace…
[SATAN looks over his poem. He rips it out, crumples it up, throws it aside, and starts writing again. PETER ignores him, and is staring at JESUS, fuming. JESUS takes a final drag and throws the butt aside.]
PETER [venomously]. Are you done now?
JESUS [calling]. Satan. Satan!
[SATAN does not hear, or chooses not to hear. JESUS fishes into his pocket for his lighter, which he throws at SATAN’s head. That gets his attention.]
JESUS. Stop writing that shit, we have things to do now. And give me my lighter back.
[Grumbling, SATAN puts away his poetry and hands JESUS back his lighter.]
JESUS. Now, I’m to assume you’re dead.
PETER. How observant of you.
JESUS [raising his fist]. Don’t get smart with me, asshole, unless you want more of this. Can I continue? Hm? Are you finished? Is it my turn to talk now?
[PETER is silent.]
JESUS. As I was saying, you are dead. As such, you need somewhere to go to spend the rest of the afterlife. That means you either come with me, or with… him.
[JESUS gestures toward SATAN, who is ravenously biting his fingernails. SATAN shoots them a glance but doesn’t stop.]
It is my place to judge you. Got that? I decide.
PETER [under his breath]. Oh, joy.
JESUS. Now, I need to think about this.
[JESUS rises, and briefly paces back and forth.]
Okay, I’ve decided.
PETER. I’m not going to heaven?
PETER. Why not, if I may ask?
JESUS. I don’t like your face.
PETER. Excuse me? You’re judging my eternal fate based on that?
JESUS. Don’t bitch about it. I was asked to make a decision, and I did.
PETER. You can hardly call that an informed decision.
JESUS. Look, I don’t need this shit, okay? I made the choice, deal with it. I’m leaving.
[JESUS exits RIGHT. PETER is stunned.]
PETER. What just happened?
SATAN. Death. We’re only corpses, waiting to die. Waiting for the blackness. The blackness of your soul to-
PETER. Stop that.
SATAN. Why? Am I frightening you? Am I stirring your deepest, darkest emotions?
PETER. No, not really, but that poetry is terrible.
SATAN. It… it is?
PETER. It’s horrible.
SATAN. Horrible like… death? Like maggots eating out the remains of your liver while your loved ones watch?
PETER. No, horrible as in it sucks.
PETER. What’s with you, anyway? I envisioned Satan a little differently. As a matter of fact, I pictured both of you differently. [Rubbing his jaw, looking offstage where Jesus left] Very differently.
SATAN [with a sigh, dropping the persona]. That’s because we’re a bit… new at this.
PETER. New? How can you be new at this?
SATAN. We were only hired recently. There was a change in management.
SATAN. Yeah, how did you know?
PETER [laughing despite himself]. Ian.
SATAN [edging away]. Uh… are you okay, buddy?
PETER [laughing hard now]. Ian!
SATAN. Alright, well… if you’re ready to leave with me, we can go now.
PETER [getting himself under control]. No. No, I’m fine here.
SATAN. You’re staying here?
PETER. I’m staying.
SATAN. You’re sure of that?
PETER. I’m sure.
SATAN [with a shrug]. Your call.
[SATAN rises and exits to the RIGHT. PETER, now content with where he is, reclines on the bench and admires his eternal surroundings, smiling. He then notices his bagged lunch, which is still on the ground. He picks it up, sits back down, and begins eating an apple as…]